Need someone to help refinance home in the San Francisco area
August 30, 2014 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm separated and my wife has the house and has to pay all expenses on the house including loan payments. I went through getting the loan adjusted once, which helped for a while, but now she's behind again. She isn't doing anything herself and hasn't asked for help, but my kids live there too, when they are not with me, But I'm having trouble getting motivated to help out this time. So I'm looking for someone who can deal with the banks to get a refinance.

The first time it almost went into foreclosure. It had a reasonably high interest rate loan, so I tried to get a new loan for her, but because of the almost-foreclosure, and because this was right after the housing collapse, no loan came through. Finally I applied for a HARP loan adjustment, and got one (after a major battle). But the interest only went down a tiny amount (and it became an adjustable rate-- for this the bank got a reward payment from the government. What a taxpayer ripoff!)

So, once again, years later she's falling behind again. My name is still on the house and I found out that somehow my credit rating is excellent, so I'm thinking of reapplying for loans again. The house is worth twice the value of the loan. Even the issuing bank has a program for adjusting loan payments (though I doubt they'll do it, given the battles I had with the HARP adjustment).

The problem is that this time I'm just not motivated to deal with the banks again. She hasn't asked me to do it and she should really be doing it herself. And every time I start working on it, she invariably does or says something really mean or vindictive, and I lose motivation and just put it off. I'm thinking if I can get someone else to deal with the banks and paperwork, it will actually get done.

So I need someone who can fill out the forms, deal with the banks, maybe know where it can be refinanced given our weird situation (which bureaucratic banks can't deal with). I'm not looking for someone who is a loan representative looking to make a commission on their particular loan. I want someone working for me, not for the bank!

Does anyone know anyone, that has references, that would be good at doing this sort of thing? I'm not sure where to look.
posted by eye of newt to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like it's too expensive for one person to keep up. Would you both have the option of selling? Or finding renters, while you both live elsewhere? This isn't really a long-term solution unless she has better financial prospects on the horizon. Have you both gone through mediation or another financial planner to figure out expenses? Should you be paying alimony or other child support to keep up expenses there?
posted by barnone at 12:46 PM on August 30, 2014

Don't have a specific name for you, bit it sounds like you're looking for a mortgage broker. I think they may be paid on commission, but they generally work for you, not the bank.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 1:32 PM on August 30, 2014

This looks like a pretty complicated situation and while I see you have good intentions to keep everyone in that home, your best bet is to talk to a divorce lawyer or at the very least, a real estate lawyer.
posted by kinetic at 1:34 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Why not sell the house? If you have an interest in it, they'll be some cash for you too. It sounds like your wife can't afford the house. Your wife can get a place she can afford.

If you're not getting back together, file for divorce so you can settle everything once and for all. If you even have an inkling you may reconcile, then refinance in both your names.

This is a shit or get off the pot situation. Clearly your wife isn't bothered, foreclosure isn't worrying her a bit. So unless you want the house to be your hassle and bother, get rid of it.

Refinancing is kicking the can down the road, it's a problem for future Eye of Newt.

Ask amon your fiends if they know a good mortgage broker. I used to, but no one I know is in that business anymore. I had a good experience with Quicken Loans.

No matter what though, you'll still be dicking around with paperwork at SOME point. She's got to agree to sign her name about 700 times at some point.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:43 PM on August 30, 2014

Response by poster: I've tried to convince her that it is too much house for her--and during the near foreclosure I was close to having the court force a house sale (the judge would have been willing to sign it). So unless I go down that combative road, she won't sell. (Maybe I'm being too nice for her own good).

I pay lots of child support, and I think her income vs mortgage payments would be reasonable with a better loan (of course it all depends on her spending habits, but at least she'd have a chance).
posted by eye of newt at 2:21 PM on August 30, 2014

Based on your update, I strongly advise you to speak to a divorce attorney. Seems like you're trying to be a good guy but you may be getting financially screwed. And if she bails on the payments, that's going on your credit report. You need professional advice to protect your financial interests and your kids, not a mortgage broker.
posted by kinetic at 2:40 PM on August 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

In general, it's better if your wife deals with her own life. But you are on this mortgage, and you are liable for the loan. So use that liability to help her get it refinanced, and get your name off the loan, and off the deed. Once it's refinanced, you should let her deal with it.
posted by theora55 at 2:42 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have a lawyer and we worked out custody and child support. When it came to assets she was willing to go to all out war with the kids as collateral. It was really affecting the kids in a really bad way, so I just stopeed there. Somehow having the police show up to force her out of the house so it could be sold against her will didn't seem like the best thing for me to do to my kids, so I'm kind of stuck with this situation. I may be naive, but I think she could make it, financially, with a better loan. Note that the loan now is almost 6% (yes, this is what the bank came up with under the HARP government home affordability program).
posted by eye of newt at 2:49 PM on August 30, 2014

The person that will help you refinance is a mortgage broker. This was ours, and he is great. You will still need to collect the documents and send them on of course.

Hopefully you realize that a better rate is not going to necessarily prompt your ex to actually hold up her end of the bargain, but 6% is certainly more than you should be paying these days, whoever is paying.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2014

Best answer: I'm going to suggest divorce lawyer for the third time to rework the assets and here's a story:

My friend Bob had an unpleasant separation from his wife, it sounds similar to what you described. He wanted the kids to stay in their childhood home, so he moved out and like you, he refinanced the mortgage because his ex couldn't afford the payments (she sat back and let him do all the work and then signed off on the lower rate mortgage).

She stopped making mortgage payments.

Like you, he wanted to refinance to help her keep the house. Because kids and Bob's a nice guy.

He went to his divorce attorney, explained the situation and the attorney helped him to understand that as hard as the situation was, Bob was grasping tightly to an unhealthy level of control over his ex and more, Bob needed to see that his ex couldn't/wouldn't adhere to the legal agreement. Bob needed to cut the financial cord with her. He and the ex both needed to start independent financial lives.

Bob's attorney contacted Bob's ex with financial particulars, but basically explaining the financial shakiness of the current situation and that Bob was filing a motion to change the agreement.

A few false starts later (she didn't get a lawyer, she didn't show up for mediation), a judge went over the proposal and it was agreed that Bob's ex kept the house and it was signed over to her. All payment responsibilities were hers as it was her home and in her name only.

I'm oversimplifying here but Bob got his name off the mortgage. Over time, his ex defaulted on the mortgage and she had to sell the house.

But you know, that was okay because despite everyone's feelings for wanting to keep the kids at home, the economic reality was that they couldn't. His ex sold the place, got something more affordable, and now she and Bob both have entirely separate finances and Bob no longer has stress about how his ex is handling her finances.

And that's what you need to do.**

**I understand this is NOT the question you asked, but often at AskMe, people here take a different view of your question and respond to what we perceive is the bigger issue, not necessarily the one you asked. So I apologize if you're frustrated that this isn't what you asked, but I think it's what you need to hear.
posted by kinetic at 5:06 AM on August 31, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think you're being naive about how much she could save on mortgage payments. I think the prevailing rate is 4.25% and that's not on Jumbo loans. There are tons of fees and charges to refinance, and while you may not come out of pocket on them, by tacking them onto the mortgage you elevate the note, and the payments is higher anyway.

Run the numbers and see if I'm not right.

Another option for you is to pay the mortgage in lieu of child support, directly to the bank. I'm not sure if that's amenable to your wife, but it's a thought.

Were I you, I'd much rather just divorce and get my financial life back.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2014

Call your divorce attorney. Have your attorney and her attorney work out a way to refinance the house in her name only--there's your solution for having someone who is NOT YOU deal with getting this fixed. If the attorneys and your ex-wife can't get a refinance together, have them modify your divorce/support agreement to sell the house and get her into a living situation that she can afford without risking taking you through a foreclosure action or requiring you to rework her finances regularly.

Speaking as a divorced person and an attorney and a multiple property owner, I believe the right thing to do here is get your name off the mortgage and title to your ex-wife's house. That means refinancing it in her name only or selling it. It's admirable to want to make things easy on your ex-wife--remaining tied to a mortgage she cannot afford does not accomplish that.

I understand you want to keep your kids happy and secure. Speaking as a person who had more than 8 childhood homes, it's not at all necessary to stay in one house or even one neighborhood your whole childhood to be happy and secure. I understand you don't want to embroil them in a vindictive rehash of your divorce, but you've been divorced long enough to talk about it being "years later" since the almost foreclosure. It's really time to get fully disentangled from your ex-wife's financial responsibilities.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Upon re-reading, I see you never mention "divorce", only separation, and mention that you live in California. This complicates things further. It's difficult to close real estate transactions in California with only one half of a married couple (it takes extra steps in every state, but California's rules are--to my recollection--slightly more involved than other places). Your best solution here really is a family law attorney with significant experience in real estate disposition as part of the process.

I have no idea what your reasons for not divorcing, only separating, are. Sometimes that is the best course, but usually, enough years pass and enough things change that it really does not make sense anymore to remain married to someone when you are not living like married people. Call a family law attorney and revisit your reasons for remaining separated rather than divorced, assuming those reasons are financial or legal. If those reasons are religious or emotional, call a counselor or your clergy and revisit whether this is the best way to conduct the rest of your life. From your question, it sounds like the cost to you are significant. I'm certain there is a better way.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:42 AM on September 1, 2014

Response by poster: I appreciate the comments about how I'm just "kicking the can down the road", and should really finalize the divorce and separate myself from the house, despite how thick headed I'm being about it. Yes, kinetic, maybe there's some unconscious control going on in both directions, when we really need to get on with our lives. What can I say? It's hard.

And to prove how thick headed I'm being, I'm still going to talk to some mortgage brokers about a refinance (thanks for the suggestions--I'll check them out). If it is going to lead to a major battle, at least I'll have it take place in the summer so the kids' won't be in school, and the banks won't be ripping us off in the mean time.
posted by eye of newt at 6:16 AM on September 2, 2014

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