NACA’s “Save the Dream Tour” Now Disappointing Thousands in Phoenix?

It started this past July 31st and went through August 3rd, and 40,000 very nervous homeowners waited in long lines in the hopes of saving their dreams.

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One woman, a 46 year-old single mom who had lost her job, fallen behind on her bills, but was working again, waited apprehensively to find out if her lender, Wells Fargo, would modify her loan or throw her out in the street.  (I know that’s a harsh way of putting it, but I’ve decided that there’s been enough soft pedaling on this point.)

The event was yet another brought to homeowners by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, or NACA for short.  The event’s brochure promised “Same Day Solutions” for homeowners who would get their loan modifications approved on the spot by many of the largest lenders and servicers in the country.

Bank representatives, dressed in their golf shirts with embroidered bank logos, would be on hand and would get things done for homeowners on a while you wait basis.  NACA, a nonprofit based in Boston would be there with hundreds of housing counselors.

Wow.  When I first heard about this whole “Save the Dream” thing, I thought it sounded absolutely fabulous.

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When our single mom left the event that day she felt terrific.  She was confident that her home would now be saved.  A NACA housing counselor had reviewed her financial documents, and then she had met with a representative from Wells Fargo, who had agreed to modify her loan, taking her interest rate down from 6.375 to 4.375, and cutting her payment by more than $200 a month.  Wells also agreed to a forbearance agreement that would allow her to skip the next six payments, and tack the amount onto the back end of the loan.

She was so happy.

The Wells Fargo representative couldn’t give her a written agreement, but it was a direct contact with her lender, and she watched as the representative wrote her name down along with her phone number and the promised interest rate… right on her NACA workbook.

She was so happy.

Fast forward to September 22nd, eight weeks later when she received a letter from Wells Fargo that specified very different terms than she was promised.  In the letter it said that at the end of a six-month moratorium on payments, she would have to pay a balloon payment of all six payments missed.

So, as you might expect, our single mom tried to call her Wells Fargo representative at the number she had been given while she was saving her dream two months earlier… but she was never put through to her.  Instead, Wells Fargo now told her to stand by… because Wells would be contacting her in a few months, at which time she could apply for a loan modification!  And even better, Wells now said that it had no record of the agreed to interest rate reduction.

So, next she called NACA, left voice mails and sent emails but never got a response.  And wouldn’t you know it… the identification number that she was given to track her file online on the NACA website didn’t work.  Darn the luck.

So, now our single mom is concerned.  She’s facing a balloon payment in January and is once again scared that she will lose her home… the home she purchased in 2002 with a 20% down payment…. the home in which she has close to 50% equity, but can’t refinance because of her credit score.

Now she’s angry.  Very angry, I would think.

Here’s what she told the St. Louis Beacon:

“I’m angry at both the bank and the organization — Wells Fargo and NACA. Is the idea of ‘scam’ in my mind?  Yes.  And that’s a quick turnaround for me.  But, it was a very difficult 40-minute call I had with the bank — to see what I thought was a gift, of sorts, a break, just kind of disintegrate.”

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NACA’s CEO is Bruce Marks, and he’s known for his outrageous acts in defiance of banks.  I read about the guy and frankly, had to like him.  For a while, he was delivering old, crummy furniture to the front lawns of bank executives on weekends.  Pretty cool, right?  Now I’m not so sure.

When Bruce was asked for numbers on how many St. Louis homeowners have received loan modifications and how many are in some sort of pending status, all he would say is that “it’s a rolling number”.  It’s apparently a number that rolls.  Bruce went on to say that that the focus would be on completing pending cases before the tour would resume in Los Angeles in late September.  The “vast majority” will be completed by the end of this week, he told the St. Louis Beacon.

Were they?  I don’t know.  I can’t find any published numbers anywhere.  I sure hope “the vast majority” of the 40,000 people that attended the NACA “Save the Dream” event… had their dream saved.

But I’m skeptical.  Because when you consider that, according to the administration’s report cards that were published on August 9th, Bank of America only modified 4% of its eligible loans.  Bank of America is the country’s largest mortgage holder, so it seems hard to imagine that the “vast majority” of 40,000 homeowners could save a dream out of that 4%.  Maybe I’m not getting the math right.

At least NACA provides their housing counselor services FREE!  That’s right, they don’t charge any of those distasteful up front fees everyone is so concerned about.  Nope, NACA gets their money the old fashioned way… from the taxpayers… well, from the government who gets their money from the taxpayers.  In fact, NACA recently got $16 million in government funding to provide housing counselors to distressed homeowners.  But that’s not considered an up front fee, I suppose.  So, you see… that’s free right there.

Oh, and one more thing… just for fun I looked up NACA on the Better Business Bureau Website and guess what?  You guessed it… an ‘F’.  Uh oh.  So, maybe they are doing some loan modifications after all.  Go figure.

NACA’s Save the Dream?  Or just another government funded nightmare?

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