Let me begin by saying that I have been a Realtor for 11 years in the recent past, I have seen many scams and schemes and this one definitely qualifies as a "rip off".
Like many others in this economy we decided to take advantage of low interest rates and refi our home. After shopping several Mortgage Companies, we landed with Countrywide/Bank of America. We should have seen the writing on the wall when the fees on the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) in the loan package were $400 more than they originally quoted. By the way, this $400 diffrence would have knocked Countrywide/ Bank of America out of the shot for my business. But, what was done was done so we moved on.
Then comes the little appraisal issue. Apparently Countrywide contracts all their needed appraisals through Landsafe which is a wholly owned subsidy of Countrywide/ Bank of America. Uh Oh...this sounds fishy already. They hire an appraiser that is not from my market area and is not familiar with the local values or geographical layout. It came back about 30k low. Well, this triggered the need for mortgage insurance which makes it all pointless. So we stop processing and back out of the deal with our $400 appraisal fee forfeited. Moving on...
Now we're lucky enough to come across some new info that peaks our interest. Due to the decline of the real estate market, the government has issued lenders the ability to refi an existing loan that does not currently have mortgage insurance and not assess mortgage insurance on the new loan regardless of appraised value. So here we go again...This time with a new lender, of course!
So the new lender needs an appraisal. We already have one! Even as sorry as it is, it has nevertheless been paid for and due to this new info. appraised value is a non-issue. The new lender contacts Landsafe to request the appraisal be transferred from Countrywide/Bank of America to the name of my new lender because Landsafe have to be the point of contact for anything regarding this appraisal. Then the new lender gets a bill for $175 for cutting and paste-ing a new name and address on an appraisal. I have never seen anything over $25 charged for a transfer. Highway robbery!!!
When I attempted to speak with Landsafe regarding this rediculous amount, they refused to talk to me about it. I went up the chain of command 3 levels, each level was less helpful than the prior one. They were insistent that I was NOT their client. They are a business to business company and do not deal with the individual homeowners. Nevermind the individual homeowners are the ones who are left to pay their rediculous fees.
My new lender made contact with Landsafe who informed them that the appraiser was the source of those charges. I made contact with the appraiser who informed me that Landsafe was the source of those charges. Bottom line is no one wants to look like the crook who charged the fees but I can assure you the check will be cashed by someone. And my hands are tied as I must pay these fees in order to close my loan.
I am convinced that there are numerous less than ethical things going on here. However, I do not have anywhere else to turn. So I intend to speak out the only way I know how, the internet.