Ameriquest woes

Another fun aspect of owning a home, fun in the classic Greek sense where there's a guy wearing a mask with a big nose, is the refinancing of your mortgage loan. To say I have a good grasp of how mortgage-lending works would be to insult brokers everywhere in the world. I have no more sense about such things than the average May Fly. Mrs. Austin was either solicited or started the process on her own to refinance our 6.25 loan with Ameriquest. They said they could help AND get us cash back as a home equity loan. We said go for it.

Now, if Mr. Brighton or Mrs. Colorado Springs are reading this, let me preface by saying we haven't signed anything and don't plan to.

So some time has gone by since our first dealings with Ameriquest. Mrs. Austin has brought me up to speed and I've done what I can in my capacity as an idiot to help with the proceedings. After we'd sent many an article of payment and bank history to these folks, we're still no closer to a) Understanding what's going on and b) Getting what was promised to us than we were 2 months ago.

The original deal goes like this. Contact is made. Our credit isn't very good, it's not bad, but it's not sterling. We had good enough scores to actually obtain the house, but to get a lower rate requires a credit report that hasn't had any activity since 1960 at which point the 30 years of prior spotless payment history was closed out, sealed in the hall of records and buried under the remains of the Statue of Liberty, to be excavated by Simian descendants of man wearing leather tunics and riding horses. With this in mind, the strategy changed from "lower rate and home loan" to "higher rate for a year, home loan, next year lower rate." Ok, we agreed. To get a lower rate is worth the sacrifice of one year at a higher rate while we repair our oxygen deprived credit scores. On top of it all, we get a few G's in a loan to help with the bills. Keep the "bills" bit in mind, it'll come into play later.

More time goes by. We don't hear from Ameriquest for weeks and we're starting to worry. One of the initial points was we don't pay on our current loan for 2 months during the process. Naive as I am, I don't ask why, I just assume it has to do with paperwork changing hands. Again, total moron. So while we're waiting for our closing now, our bank note is falling behind, and no one from Ameriquest has contacted our lender to tell them we're refinancing. On top of that, the original appraisal of our house has suddenly dropped below the level that will ensure us a home equity loan. The deal is slowly going south. I feel like Lando trying to keep Bespin while Darth Vader is hunting down rebels. "This deal is getting worse all the time."

Today was the back-breaker for me. Having very little to do with the dealings up until now, my only call to Ameriquest didn't sit well with my gut. My guts have seen me through quite a few spells and I just didn't see this deal as being on the up and up. First off, I'm referring to it as a "deal." Where's Monty to let me pick door number 2? As the rep explained it to us, we would be basically getting the cash back in the form of savings over the next year from not paying on our current loan for 2 months now and 2 more months in one year's time. Then we would be getting our escrow account refunded to us. Problem is, we'd still have to pay taxes on the property at the end of the year. Meanwhile our payments on the principle and interest were going up on a monthly basis, more than what a slight interest rate increase would yield. Something sounded wrong.

Something indeed. Like fish left in the back seat of a Datsun in Baton Rouge in August, the smell of this started to stick to my clothes. As soon as we fought back, just a little, to say that it'd be better for us that we pay the Tax along with the Principle and Interest and Insurance, suddenly their computers went down and they'd have to call us back. Call it Sad, Call it Funny, but it's better than even money that it's a stall tactic that this company is trying to use to string us along until we're so desperate for the funds we'll sign on to anything. Right after the call I checked epinions.com and put Ameriquest into the search field. 2 reviews, both bad. Both basically summing up what has been said here. One with an unresolved outcome, one with a decent outcome that required calls to the Better Business Bureau.

Speaking of the BBB, you should look up Ameriquest on their site. I'd say the report was scathing, but I don't know business. I'm pretty sure that when terms like "fails" "unsatisfactory" "unresolved" and "consumer complaints" are used, that's not going to win you many beauty contests.

So now we're in limbo. Yes, it's good we haven't made any commitments. Yes, I'm glad we found out about it. Yes I'm upset we didn't get the offer that was promised. The thing that upsets me most is we're now behind in regular monthly accounting practices because of the delays. It's really unfortunate that in an effort to straighten up and fly right, get ahead on bills, get a better rate on our home, we're going to end up even further behind. Now things like school and Chicago trips are threatened. Thoughts of selling household items to pay the bills is starting to creep into my mind. Hmm, blood goes for $25 a pop. I can get 10 bucks for those X-Men cards I have. Is that fair? Is that right? Is that the American Dream? No, but it's apparently the American Quest.

(Will update this story as more information becomes available.)

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