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Loan Modification Given, Taken Away, Reinstated

In 2007, a Midwestern cable installer earned sufficient money to qualify for a $256,000 loan on a two bedroom home. He and his wife had no difficulty making the $1,848 monthly payments. Then in 2008, the economy slumped and the cable company cut the man's hours.

The young couple started to have difficulty meeting the mortgage payments. Sleepless nights followed as the couple worried over a potential foreclosure on their home. In early 2009, the Obama administration announced the making home affordable foreclosure rescue program. The announcement was music to the cable installer's ears.

The couple went through the application process with CitiMortgage and entered a trial period with a reduced mortgage. In February 2010, the husband and wife received a letter from CitiMortgage congratulating the couple and announcing they qualified for a permanent reduction to their monthly mortgage payment under the HAMP program.

The cable installer was relieved, especially after receiving the signed contract in the mail, cutting his monthly payments by one-third. He called CitiMortgage in April to make his monthly payment.

The lender told him that he was delinquent by $8,000. He had to make the payment to avoid foreclosure. The bank told the cable installer that there was an underwriting error in the process and the bank was cancelling the new mortgage. The man made numerous calls to the lender to try and get some answers and hopefully straiten the mess out.

By October, the balance due rose to $14,000. He eventually sought outside help through the media to find answers. CitiMortgage eventually apologized to the cable installer and restored the modified mortgage under the original contract. The bank still has not given a clear answer on what happened other than to say the "highly unusual" problem was a result of "technical processing issues."

Source: Star Tribune, "Help retracted by bank error," James Eli Shiffer, 15 Nov 2010

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