HARP refi: one homeowner's success story

Backstop phone conversations with emails

"At some points where I would talk on the phone and I felt that we covered some important ground, I would follow up that conversation with an email restating what we said," DeLucia says.

He especially followed up on rate-lock extensions. On May 1, he locked a rate of 4.75 percent, and he didn't want to lose it. So every month he called the loan officer to get the rate lock extended. Then, he sent emails to confirm the conversations that had just taken place.

Stay in touch

For the first couple of months, DeLucia called every week or so.

"But as soon as summer hit and it was starting to get into early fall, I was calling these people every day, sending emails all the time," he says. "I guess they were incredibly busy. A lot of times, I couldn't even leave a message because the person who I was appointed to, their voicemail box was full."

He's lucky to have a desk job where he could dial his servicer, put the phone on speakerphone mode and wait (sometimes more than an hour) for a human being to pick up. He made a point to return emails immediately.

DeLucia realizes that not everyone has this kind of job flexibility.

Anticipate stupidity

From the beginning, DeLucia stressed he would pay closing costs in cash -- instead of rolling those fees into the new loan -- so he would stay within the allowable loan-to-value ratio.

"I made this point to them on more than one occasion," he says.

Still, DeLucia's servicer rejected his refi application because the closing costs, if rolled into the loan, would put him over the loan-to-value limit.

DeLucia straightened that out, and the loan went back into underwriting for another four or five weeks.

"That was a huge hurdle -- it was a big screaming match on my end," he says.

Outlast the lender

DeLucia persevered -- through the late revelation that he would need a second appraisal (screaming match No. 2), through the blown appointments for closings and through all the lost documents and full voicemail boxes.

"I bet there's a ton of people in my position who just give up," he says. "Don't let them win."

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