It all began back in July, reports the Newark Star-Ledger’s Bamboozled column, when a tree limb fell during a storm and ripped three huge holes in the roof.
The house was already under a short sale agreement after having been on the market for four years. Luckily, the homeowner’s insurance came up with a check to help fund the repairs and they found a contractor willing to do the work for significantly less than his estimate so they wouldn’t have to go out of pocket.
Because of the short sale agreement, the homeowners had to have the check endorsed by Citi, which holds the primary mortgage, and Chase, which had the secondary loan on the property.
Chase was helpful, endorsing the check right away. But Citi was a different story. No one at the bank branch would endorse the check, and everyone the homeowners spoke to said they needed to mail in the check along with various forms.
The homeowners were fine with the paperwork, but were reluctant to send in the check. After all, anyone who has gone through the short sale process knows that banks have made a habit of repeatedly “never receiving” important documents. They were also afraid that once the bank had the check in hand, it would balk at doing the repairs.
“I don’t mind if they don’t want to put it in my account,” they tell Bamboozled. “I’d gladly have them pay the contractor directly.”
Meanwhile, in spite of having sent in all the required paperwork, Citi failed to send out an inspector to sign off on the contractor’s bid.
By early October, the homeowners relented and mailed in the checks; Citi said it would expedite the process. And yet the gears did not begin to turn.
It was another 10 days before the bank confirmed it had received the check and contacted the contractor.
A comment-bot for Citi tells Bamboozled that it provides homeowners with an “insurance claims package and instructions on how to complete the process,” and that it had been waiting on documentation that the homeowners say was already sent in.
To the homeowners, the “expedited” service they’re receiving from Citi on the repairs is about as lightning-quick as the bank’s process for handling short sales.
“We are constantly getting paperwork and requests, and we comply, but who knows what,” they tell Bamboozled. “Everybody I speak to doesn’t seem to know anything.”