Washington Post Writer’s Mortgage Mess Illustrates the Importance of the Right Lender

In Sunday’s Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank wrote, “The problem in the nation’s housing market now isn’t subprime lending. It’s subpar lenders.”

Milbank goes on to describe his personal horror story in dealing with Citibank through his refinancing process. Citibank, he says, had been collecting his payments but not paying the insurer. He only found out when his home insurance provider sent him a cancellation notice for non-payment.

In describing the ordeal, Milbank recalls:

Along the way, a simple refi became a months-long odyssey: rates misquoted, interest charged on a phantom account, legal documents issued in wrong names, a mortgage officer who disappeared for days at a time (first it was his birthday, then his laptop was in the shop), a bounced check from Citibank’s own title company, and the freezing of our bank accounts.

The column doesn’t take it easy on Citibank, nor should it, but he spares this absentee mortgage officer by leaving him nameless. But I’m guessing Milbank won’t be recommending this particular mortgage professional to any of his friends. And I doubt he came recommended from someone Milbank surveyed before getting the loan.

There may be better ways for regulators to hold the banks accountable for this kind of performance, as Milbank advocates for in the column, but there will always be “subpar lenders,” as he calls them. But that’s why we shouldn’t just walk into a bank off the street and go with the first guy available.

There are plenty of skilled and responsible lenders out there, and I’d wager there are even some that are connected to Milbank in one way or another. Stik.com is helping consumers find these trusted lenders by searching their Facebook network and allowing them to ask mutual friends about their qualifications.  In doing so, we can confidently say your experience is likely to be much better than Milbank’s.

Getting a mortgage is complex process that carries heavy consequences. For Milbank, he says it amounted to a lot of annoying phone calls to fix, but he goes on to write in other cases, “…these errors – accidental or otherwise – are driving large numbers of people into default and foreclosure when it otherwise would not have happened.”

That’s why it’s important that you start with someone you can trust.

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