MORTGAGE BLUES

Twenty years ago, I signed up for a mortgage on my condo. I don’t remember which bank handled the loan. Ten years ago, I tried to refinance this mortgage, to a bank whose rates were much lower. Apparently,the mortgage had been sold and resold twice over the interim period. It was now in possession of a CitiMortgage company.

       Refinancing mortgages should be simple. My attempt wasn’t. The new bank wanted my ownership papers–my promissory note and the deed proving that I owned my condo. Unfortunately, CitiMortgage couldn’t find my note, my deed and other proofs of ownership.With all those transfers, the banks and mortgage companies had failed to record each linkof the legal procedures, CitiMortgage didn’t use those words. They simply told me that they were unable to locate the documents–documents which the new lender would obviously need. I was told that I should contactthe office of the County Clerk,which keeps copies of such records, and that they would replace my deed. Only one problem. There was a substantial charge for legal and and other fees they needed to expend in order to provide me with new documents. Not to mention the time and nuisance required. I dropped the whole idea. [The mortgage balance is now less than $1500,00 so, in a couple of years, when I need to retire the mortgage and want my deed back, I shall probably have the same problem.]

       Why am I bringing this up now? Read your newspapers.It amuses me that many banks now trying to foreclose on delinquent mortgage holders are having problems similar to the one I had. Before all this wheeling and dealing with mortgages, banks always kept the loan documents in their vaults.Now, with all the transfers and slicing and dicing and consolidation going on, the ownership documents seem to have disappeared. Oops! In one Florida county, over 1,700 notes have been “lost.” Since banks have recently carried out approximately 300,000 foreclosures a month, it is now a huge problem. For many years, these slipshod methods were routinely ignored, but after a court ruling in 2007, everything hit the fan . Watch out for tens of thousands of court suits during the next few years.

       There are some smiling property owners out there. At least for the time being. What goes around comes around.

# # # # # # # # # #

MORTGAGE BLUES

Twenty years ago, I signed up for a mortgage on my condo. I don’t remember which bank handled the loan. Ten years ago, I tried to refinance this mortgage, to a bank whose rates were much lower. Apparently,the mortgage had been sold and resold twice over the interim period. It was now in possession of a CitiMortgage company.

       Refinancing mortgages should be simple. My attempt wasn’t. The new bank wanted my ownership papers–my promissory note and the deed proving that I owned my condo. Unfortunately, CitiMortgage couldn’t find my note, my deed and other proofs of ownership.With all those transfers, the banks and mortgage companies had failed to record each linkof the legal procedures, CitiMortgage didn’t use those words. They simply told me that they were unable to locate the documents–documents which the new lender would obviously need. I was told that I should contactthe office of the County Clerk,which keeps copies of such records, and that they would replace my deed. Only one problem. There was a substantial charge for legal and and other fees they needed to expend in order to provide me with new documents. Not to mention the time and nuisance required. I dropped the whole idea. [The mortgage balance is now less than $1500,00 so, in a couple of years, when I need to retire the mortgage and want my deed back, I shall probably have the same problem.]

       Why am I bringing this up now? Read your newspapers.It amuses me that many banks now trying to foreclose on delinquent mortgage holders are having problems similar to the one I had. Before all this wheeling and dealing with mortgages, banks always kept the loan documents in their vaults.Now, with all the transfers and slicing and dicing and consolidation going on, the ownership documents seem to have disappeared. Oops! In one Florida county, over 1,700 notes have been “lost.” Since banks have recently carried out approximately 300,000 foreclosures a month, it is now a huge problem. For many years, these slipshod methods were routinely ignored, but after a court ruling in 2007, everything hit the fan . Watch out for tens of thousands of court suits during the next few years.

       There are some smiling property owners out there. At least for the time being. What goes around comes around.

# # # # # # # # # #

Twenty years ago, I signed up for a mortgage on my condo. I don’t remember which bank handled the loan. Ten years ago, I tried to refinance this mortgage, to a bank whose rates were much lower. Apparently,the mortgage had been sold and resold twice over the interim period. It was now in possession of a CitiMortgage company.

Refinancing mortgages should be simple. My attempt wasn’t. The new bank wanted my ownership papers–my promissory note and the deed proving that I owned my condo. Unfortunately, CitiMortgage couldn’t find my note, my deed and other proofs of ownership.With all those transfers, the banks and mortgage companies had failed to record each linkof the legal procedures, CitiMortgage didn’t use those words. They simply told me that they were unable to locate the documents–documents which the new lender would obviously need. I was told that I should contactthe office of the County Clerk,which keeps copies of such records, and that they would replace my deed. Only one problem. There was a substantial charge for legal and and other fees they needed to expend in order to provide me with new documents. Not to mention the time and nuisance required. I dropped the whole idea. [The mortgage balance is now less than $1500,00 so, in a couple of years, when I need to retire the mortgage and want my deed back, I shall probably have the same problem.]

Why am I bringing this up now? Read your newspapers.It amuses me that many banks now trying to foreclose on delinquent mortgage holders are having problems similar to the one I had. Before all this wheeling and dealing with mortgages, banks always kept the loan documents in their vaults.Now, with all the transfers and slicing and dicing and consolidation going on, the ownership documents seem to have disappeared. Oops! In one Florida county, over 1,700 notes have been “lost.” Since banks have recently carried out approximately 300,000 foreclosures a month, it is now a huge problem. For many years, these slipshod methods were routinely ignored, but after a court ruling in 2007, everything hit the fan . Watch out for tens of thousands of court suits during the next few years.

There are some smiling property owners out there. At least for the time being. What goes around comes around.

# # # # # # # # # #

A SALUTE TO NORTH CAROLINA

Perhaps this piece should be called “A Salute to Changing times.”Chie and I recently visited frinds in Maryland and North Carolina, states which I had not been to for many years.My memory of Baltimore was a group of identical row house, where I would never live for fear of trying to find my way home drunk some night.The city has vastly improved with an attractive city center and lovely scenic suburban areas, not to mention Charleston, a really great retaurant.

      The Raleigh Durham are in North Carolina was even more of a pleasant surprise. The daughter of our friend had recently enrolled in the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. This gave us an excuse for wandering around the campus. Perhaps I should not have been surprised, since I read newspapers and listen to newscasts, but seeing is believing. I was pleased and proud to see white and African-American students strolling around the campus in friendly and happy groups. That’s the sway it should be, but I am old enough to remember Governors standing in doorways of southern colleges, threatening to block admission of Black children.
Progress in racial relations is always welcome.

      Icing on the cake. We stayed at the home of our friend in an attractive area of newly built middle class houses. Lo and behold, her next-door neighbor was an interracial couple–a black husband and a white wife. True, North Carolina is not the deep South, but . . . Ain’t progress wonderful?

# # # # # # # # # #

NO GOOD DEED EVER GOES UNPUNISHED

Two days ago, my wife and I found a woman’s purse left behind in a Yellow Cab. I wanted to turn it over to the driver, but the wife didn’t think that cab drivers were trustworthy. We decided to take it home, try to locate the owner and mail it to her.

It was a small change purse with lots of cards and penciled notes, but very little in cash––less than $30.00. [The money is still there. I never steal anything less than a million.] There were, however two Barclays Bank Visa cards and another Visa card from an English company called Egg. Unfortunately, while the owner’s name was on the credit cards, nowhere in the purse could we find her address or telephone number. The purse indicated that its owner was English, since all the credit cards and addresses (other than hers) were from the London area. However a New York City Metro Card seemed to indicate that the owner was either a tourist of temporarily living in New York.

This was the start of a senseless, time consuming, highly frustrating Good Samaritan journey. I started with the Metro Card. It had an identification number on the back, as well as a Customer Service phone number. I thought that the number might possibly lead to an address or phone number of the purchaser, since many card buyers use credit cards to make purchases using card renewal machines in subway stations. Bad thinking. After waiting nearly twenty minutes on the phone before reaching an agent, I was informed that the MTA only keeps records of discounted cards purchased by senior citizens. I then phoned the Lost and Found department of the Taxi and Limousine service, hoping that the purse owner had phoned them to report her loss. She hadn’t.

Next try: Barclays Bank in London. [Fortunately, I use a phone service which doesn’t charge extra for England and a few other European countries.] This should have been duck soup. The cards had the cardholder’s name, the card number and a contact phone number for Barclays. Boy was I naive. It took even longer to speak to an Agent than it had with the Metro Card. When I finally found a real live voice, I was told that the lady had already canceled the cards, so I should destroy them. “Fine,” I told the voice at the other end. “Now, can you give me her address or phone number, since I wish to mail her the purse?” Hesitation at the other end. “Sir, we do not give out that information.” I explained that I understood the policy. “In that case, would you please phone her, explain the situation and have her phone me?” I then left my phone number. To no avail. “Sorry, Sir, but we can’t do that.” Ah, the perils of excessive security!

I argued. After all, she was a client or customer of theirs. Losing credit cards, cash and other papers is a deeply troubling experience. [It had once happened to me, and I would have blessed any one who took the time and trouble to return my property] .It was like talking to a wall. I finally elicited a supposedly pertinent reason. The Agent I was talking to was in India. He suggested that I might take the purse to a local Barclays Bank Ah, the perils of outsourcing! By the way, I tried to locate a commercial Barclays Bank in New York with no success. Incidentally a similar phone call to the Egg Visa card people resulted in the same merry-go round.

What next? There were several slips with names and London phone numbers. I tried four of these. Three numbers were no longer in use. The fourth rang and rang and rang. I later found that this was a shop which was closed on Sunday. On Monday, I reached the shop, but the party whose name I had would not be back until the following day. I shall try again. Several of the calling cards in the purse were for shops or services. I have just sent out five E-mails, and I hope that at least one recognizes the name of my purse owner and has her address or phone number in their files. Believe me, I won’t be surprised if they refuse to give me the information FOR SECURITY REASONS.

I wasted well over half a day of frustration trying to be a responsible citizen. I still have the purse, and I’m angry at my wife She should have let me turn it over to our taxi driver. No good deed goes unpunished.

P.S. If JLH, the owner of the lost purse, reads this, please E-mail me at rubimar@nyc.rr.com.
# # # # # # # # # #

IT’TY-BIT’TY ECONOMIES ADD UP

In the Senate and the House, rousing debate is now going on (or will be again when they return) on various aspects of bringing health care insurance into the 21st Century. One bitter difference involves bringing down costs. Democrats claim that substantial cost savings can be realized by nationalizing medical records so as to minimize duplicating tests and treatments. They also believe that ways can be found to reduce hospital administrative costs. I agree.

       As an 87 year old senior citizen who visits many  Doctors’ offices and periodically undergoes hospital medical  procedures, I have personally witnessed some damnably wasteful practices. For the most part, these are it’ty-bit’ty mistakes, but I am a single individual. Multiply the waste in time and labor of each error I experience, and multiply that by millions of hospital visits, and you will say, “Huge sums of public money are being frittered away.”

       Whenever I visit a Doctor for the first time, I am given several sheets to fill out. They need my name, address, telephone number and  e-mail address. They also need my age, date of birth, height, weight, Social Security number, supplementary insurance policy number, the name and address of the supplementary insurer, the name and phone number of my General Practitioner and an emergency contact name and phone number. There’s more. Have I ever had cancer, a heart attack, diabetes, a stroke, major surgery, etc.?  I need to list the medications I am taking , strength and frequency of use. I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t remember it all.

       Since I recognize the need for this information, I do not begrudge the Doctor the 30 minutes to fill out these forms.  I deeply resent  that, when I visit another  Doctor the following week, I must spend another half-hour filling out essentially the same forms.A waste of time but, since it is my time, there is no financial cost to doctors, Medicare and insurance companies. Fortunately , when I again visit  the same Doctor, he doesn’t  require that I duplicate my clerical efforts.

       Not true when I register in a hospital. I have recently visited St.Vincent Catholic Medical Center  in New York at least eight or ten times for medical procedures. The forms I am asked to fill are similar to those in  Doctors’ offices, but with one major difference. Each time I am admitted to St. Vincent, they require that I  fill out the same form. Complaining to the Nurse avails me nothing. “We are only following procedure.” I point out that this is costing the Hospital extra money in paper, ink and the Nurse’s time. At the Hospital,  it is not just my wasted time; there is a continuing extra cost to the Hospital. It is an it’ty- bit’ty expenditure, but multiply that by the very large number of patients they service, and the it’ty-bit’ties pile up. Multiply that  total by the number of hospitals in the Country using similar wasteful procedures,  and you have a significant sum.

       It gets worse. I am a member of Medicare, I also carry a supplementary policy covering pretty much everything that Medicare fails to cover. When I sign in at St.Vincent, I write down both my Medicare number and the supplementary insurance company’s name, address , phone number and my policy number.  Invariably, a couple of weeks later, I get a Hospital bill advising me that Medicare has paid a certain amount and that I still owe them the balance –– a balance which my supplementary policy insurance always covers.  

       I then phone the Hospital billing office and explain the situation.  The clerk takes time to look up my record, takes time to write down my supplementary policy information, checks to see that all is O.K. and then takes time to correct the record.  A waste of time and money. Estimate a loss of  30 minutes at at least $10.00 per hour. This does not include the cost of. sending me the bill and, if I don’t phone back quickly, the cost of sending a duplicate bill. Another waste of at least $10.00. Money unnecessarily thrown out. Again, multiply this $20.00 cost by the number of patient in the same situation and multiply again by the number of hospitals with similar slipshod practices. 

       These are just small unnecessary costs with which I personally am familiar. I suspect that these are the tip of the iceberg, and that many other examples of inefficiency and waste exist.What are the losses countrywide?  One hundred thousand dollars.? Half a million dollars? All for it’ty bit’ty errors.

       Costly inefficiencies are not limited to hospitals. More egregious ones can be found among insurance companies. My wife is a member of the Health Incurance Plan of Greater New York (HIP). Her monthly premium is $775.00.  Payments are regularly made by my bank five days before each due date, plenty of time to reach their office.  Almost every month, I get  a three-page letter advising me that the payment is overdue.  I promptly phone the billing inquiries office to check.  Usually,  I’m told that payment has been received. Sometimes, I’m told that they do not yet have a record of my payment, but not to worry. “The company post office is stacked up.” The billing screwup at the Hospital is only three or four times a year. The wasteful office, paper and mailing costs at HIP occur monthly.. At least ten times as much money is wasted  annually. I repeatedly ask HIP to fix this problem but get nowhere. I am sure I would get a similar dismissal at other insurance companies.

       I am certain that my it’ty-bit’ty waste is multiplied ten  thousandfold by other examples of a waste in the medical and insurance industries.

                                                     #   # # # # # # # # #

« Previous Entries