Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ides Marched By

Yesterday was a full day of mortgage shopping. And since it's spring break, most of the potential babysitters were not available, or they had sick kids of their own, or their in-laws were in town, or they were refusing to get out of bed and let my call go to voicemail. (Do I blame them? No. I'm jealous.) But, a mortgage was needed, so Elsie got dragged all over tarnation, and all in all was good sport about it.

Can I just say that the lending business is shady at best? And can I tell you that the Lord had his hand firmly fixed in this process? I started the morning by heading to State Farm so that I could get a quote on homeowners insurance to better get mortgage estimates (escrow, prepaids, etc.). The agent I wanted to talk to wasn't there, so I headed across the street to Keystone Bank to talk to their mortgage guy. Eli had spoken with him earlier, so I was just following up with some questions. Elsie amused herself by banging one of our dinner spoons on everything in his office, including his window. At one point I got a whiff of something unpleasant and so resolved to just go home and take care of it (1/2 mile down the street). But, on the way out, one of the State Farm agents had been at the bank and the mortgage guy said something to him, so he chased after me and let me know that he would be happy to help us with a quote. And off we went, to change a poopy diaper on the floor of the State Farm bathroom.

I left there with a quote in hand and headed out the end of the parking lot by Sips N Strokes. I pulled back onto University and looked over at the State Farm office and noticed that in the suite next door was a mortgage lender. How could I have missed this? And so, I made the block, pulled back in, and parked pretty much in the same spot I had just vacated and went in. Got a good faith estimate, and left.

We left the house at 8:15, and didn't get back until 4-ish. In that time, I stopped at various banks and mortgage brokers to get estimates. I was on the phone with USAA about insurance and with our friend/agent about getting together in the afternoon to complile data.

Elsie screamed every single time I put her back in her carseat. But every time we went into a bank or a loan office she was a googly-eyed flirt. She loves people. We met Eli at Target cafe for lunch (yes, that's the cafe inside Target--love the breadsticks combo in ours, but they were out of breadsticks... boooo). At some point as Elsie was eating her puffs that we put on the table to keep her occupied, she started with a string of dadadadadadadas. I thought I had heard some other consonants (singly) over the weekend, but this was a definite D. And it was so cute to watch her move her mouth to make that noise. (She has since learned to manipulate that sound to make a kissing sound, which I heard from the backseat over and over today.)

We spent some time at G's office (friend/realtor) while they sorted out these estimates that we collected, and the best one was the one I had gotten offhand at the mortgage place next to State Farm (Iberiabank Mortgage). I had even told Eli as much over lunch, that something about that one felt right. G confirmed it, and she's known the loan officer for over a decade and felt good about his work. That means a lot coming from G, the guru of Auburn/Opelika real estate. Anyway, Elsie made fast friends with every one of the ladies in the office, crawling all over the place, giving five to one of them (I didn't even know she could do that!), chewing on another's necklace, making faces at one through her glass office door, giggling, cooing, talking. Yup. She loves people.

So, here's where I tell you what I learned about a company that I love.

USAA Federal Savings Bank.

I've been a member with them since I turned 18. My first (and now only) credit card is from them. I have numerous checking/savings/investment accounts with them, and we even used them for our auto loan back in 2004. I love USAA. If you are a military, former military, or dependent thereof, you qualify for membership (thanks, Dad!). Oh, or you can be married to any of the above...even dependents.

Here's what I've found that I don't love: USAA Mortgage Bank Services. I mean, seriously, I was thinking we might go with them for our mortgage, even though they're not local, because they offer so many good products and have been good to me. And then I actually had to work with them and I'm displeased.

1. I went online and started the process for pre-approval. We were not under contract yet, so I put an amount a little over what the house would cost, just in case this house was no longer for sale and we would have to buy in the top end of our price range. Unfortunately, Eli's information was not updated in the system, and since it was a Sunday, we had to wait until Monday for him to call them and get his info up to date. While he was on the phone with them, the guy told him that it would cost $1000 in a good faith deposit to complete the pre-approval. Eli balked, told the guy he would talk to me.

2. I called USAA and asked about it, and the guy I talked to said there must be some sort of miscommunication, that it always is a $50 good faith deposit (non-refundable, come to find out). I completed the pre-approval process online, paid my $50. Somehow, my pre-approval ended up being over what I had put in for, so then the 24-hour period for approval was exceeded as the underwriters needed more documentation of assets. I waited on hold for 45 minutes after school as the underwriting team got us pre-approved. I was told that the pre-approval letter (which was needed for our seller) would be sent via the USPS and also delivered to my electronic documents. I checked twice before I left school and it wasn't in my e-docs. I also asked for a good faith estimate, as G had asked me to do, but was given the runaround.

3. Two days later, I have to call USAA and ask for my pre-approval letter. They apologize for letting me slip through the cracks. I let them know that we are officially under contract for this house and she asks me to fax them a copy of the contract so that they can get the loan process started. I told her that we hadn't decided to go with USAA yet, that I would like a good faith estimate (which for you non house buyers, is real estate lingo for an itemized list of fees necessary for closing on the house) at the current purchase price. She gave me the runaround and would only do an online quote, giving me total closing costs, but not itemizing them. Grrr.. Oh, and she had the gall to give me a spiel about how rates are important, but so is thinking about whether or not you want to deal with the mortgage company in question for the next thirty years. Yes. She did.

4. How easy it was to drive around yesterday and get these good faith estimates from companies who hadn't even pre-approved me yet! Why was it so difficult for USAA to answer my request BOTH TIMES I asked? And since I didn't have their itemized numbers to compare after asking TWICE, they didn't get considered for this task. What kind of mortgage company do I want to work with for the next thirty years, indeed.

5. I called USAA yesterday to let them know that we would be going with another company and wondered how I could get my $50 back. It's non-refundable, but they'll do me a favor and keep the pre-approval open just in case our current scenario doesn't work out and we can have a backup plan. Riiiiiight.

So, IberiaBank wins! USAA loses. I can't believe it. I really liked them before this. Just to be clear though, their banking/investment business is separate from their mortgage business. I still love their banking. Boo mortgage.


1 comment:

Craig-Jen said...

We had the same problem with USAA's mortgage partner. We still ended up using them, but Craig was as frustrated as you...and they messed everything up at one point. Craig basically got supervisor information and went to the top. So yeah, their mortgage arm sucks. We do use them for everything else though - insurance, life insurance, banking, etc. And I love their deposit@home option!!!

Oh, and USAA sold our mortgage to some other bank, so it's not even with them any more!