Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chase and Other Big Banks Fraudulently Devalue Homes

While the banks are reaping billions of dollars in taxpayer funded relief, not only do they continue to make credit tight and foreclose on mortgage holders, but they have now begun to unilaterally adjust home values on mortgage holders who didn't over extend themselves during the housing boom. The audacity of banks, with Chase Bank being one of the largest banks perpetrating this fraud, is just unforgivable. In essence, they are marking to market the property values of homeowners who are not delinquent, not in danger of foreclosure and good paying customers. Furthermore, the values they are assigning to properties are no more based on reality than the values of the toxic assets they hold on their books.

I happen to be one of the people who didn't overreach during the housing boom, didn't use all of the credit line Chase Bank provided and paid my bills every month on time. Still, Chase decided to arbitrarily lower the value of my home on their website to $200,000, a value 40% lower than its assessed value and thereby wiping out, on paper only, most of the equity in my home. They did this even though I have no intention of selling my home and never asked for an increase in my home equity line of credit. I am sure they did this because the line has an adjustable rate of interest which currently is 2.49%. Obviously, they don't like the fact that I am getting a bit of a break on my interest payments at this time. The kicker is that their website specifically states that the values listed for homes are NOT APPRAISALS and "The tool on this page is provided by a third-party site. Please note that the third party's privacy policy and security practices may differ from Chase's standards. Chase assumes no responsibility for nor does it control, endorse or guarantee any aspect of your use of this tool." Yet, they have used this very tool to value my home.

I checked other sites, including Zillow and found the value of my property to range from a low of $279,000 to a high of 375,000. Even on the Chase site, my neighbors property was listed $61,000 higher than my property. While my neighbor has a very nice property and he was very recently approved for a refinancing which exceeds the value Chase assigned to his home, my house is bigger, has more bedrooms, more bathrooms and other features my neighbor doesn't have. My property was also freshly painted this spring and is in excellent condition. The whole point is that Chase arbitrarily deflated the value of MY PROPERTY to force me to beg them for a fixed rate loan.

When I called their customer service line, they were rude and disrespectful. After my third call, I was given the phone number of the corporate office where supposedly I would be able to talk to someone who actually was involved in the decision making process. As you can imagine, I got to talk to a very nice secretary who told me everyone was busy, but someone would return my call. Of course, nobody returned my call.

So now I have a question for you, Jamie Dimon. Is this the way you build customer loyalty? Is this how you envision using taxpayer dollars, MY DOLLARS, to help homeowners. You can rest assured I have already contacted my lawyer and have begun the appraisal process on my property, because you have hurt me financially, degraded the value of other properties in my neighborhood and fraudulently blocked my line of credit, which is the least of my concerns and the only thing you have the legal authority to do.

So fellow taxpayers, is there anyone else who has had a similar experience. Anyone else who thought they were doing the right thing by paying your bills on time, only to get SCREWED by your multinational, too big to fail bank? Please feel free to comment on this rant and perhaps we can join together to sue this and other culprits who have destroyed the value of our investment portfolios, while paying fat bonuses to the very fools who caused this credit crisis.

John H. Kaighn

Jersey Benefits Advisors

The Kaighn Report