BofA makes an offer after 3TV stories on unhappy customerPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- A homeowner painted this on his garage "B of A stole my home." He says he did what the bank told him to in order to get a loan modification, but it ended in foreclosure.
So, how did Jonathan Bengel end up here? It started with a loan modification. To start the process, he called Bank of America.
"They said to me, 'Stop making your payments for three months.' They said, 'Stop making the payments and call us in three months and we'll get started working on the federal modification plan with you.' So, I said, 'Fine,'" Bengel explained.
In what he calls a "paperwork nightmare," the deal fell through. But he says he returned to making payments.
"As I'm making my payments I keep getting these letters saying that the house was going to be foreclosed upon despite the fact that I was still making payments to them, because I was in arrears by three months," Bengel said.
That led to a foreclosure notice, and Bengel's idea to vent his anger on his garage.
So, what about the advice to default on purpose? We took it to Mike Orr, director of Arizona State University's Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice. Should you ever stop making payments, even if the bank says so?
"The first thing I'd say is, 'Can you put that in writing, please?' I don't want just to be arguing about whether I heard that or not," Orr said.
He says even if your bank recommends it, weigh the decision.
"When you stop making a payment, you're immediately going to be picked up by credit-reporting agencies. It's going to hit your credit rating in a number of ways," he said.
Orr says he's seeing more banks making the effort to listen.
"Not all of them, but many are saying , 'Don't stop payments; just talk to us an explain the difficulty you're in,'" he said.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, push your bank for other options, or at least the paperwork that could keep you out of a financial mess.
After 3TV first ran Bengel's story, Bank of America hired local painters for a rush job, to cover up the 'B of A' bashing by the end of that day. We called for comment about who owns the home right now, and if the bank actually has the ability to do that, but we haven't heard back.
In the meantime, Bengel says Bank of America called him after 3TV's stories for another attempt at a loan modification.
We'll continue to follow the story.