How to tackle harassing calls from a lender

The Federal Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection can help resolve issues between borrowers and their mortgage lenders or other creditors. Its services are free.

Q. I am being harassed by my mortgage lender. Although my payment is due on the first day of each month, my loan documents clearly state that I have a 15-day “grace period” before a late penalty can be charged. Nonetheless, if I don’t pay on the first of every month, the people in the bank are constantly calling every day and asking (usually rudely) that the payment be made immediately, even though the 15th hasn’t arrived. I explained the problem to several people at the bank, but the calls keep coming. What can I do?

A. Your best bet would be to file a complaint against the lender with the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Do this by visiting the agency’s website,, or calling toll-free at (855) 411-2372. Its help is free.

The CFPB will then forward your complaint to the bank and require it to respond to you and the agency within 15 days. All but the most complex disputes are resolved within 60 days, according to the office.

Now here’s a really cool thing: If you give your consent, the office will also post your complaint on their website for the whole world to see. Your personal information (including your name and account number) will be deleted, but the company name will still appear.

Most lenders, credit bureaus, collection agencies, and other finance related companies hate this feature because they don’t want their “dirty laundry” shared with the public. Consumers and consumer protection groups love it.

Real estate information: Builders and contractors who perform poor-quality work or fail to start or finish a job accounted for the second highest number of consumer complaints last year, according to a joint survey by the Consumer Federation of America and a nonprofit group called North American Consumer Protection Investigators. Only car dealerships and auto repair shops performed less well.

Q. We are preparing to put our house up for sale. I think we should tear up the old carpet in our living room and install a new one, but two sales agents who visited our house suggested that we remove the carpet and re-varnish the hardwood floor underneath. What do you think we should do?

A. Follow the advice given to you by the two officers. They know the market better and probably have a much better idea of ​​what local buyers are looking for when buying a new home.

If you’re installing a new carpet, there’s a good chance your potential buyers won’t share your taste for flooring and will tear it up anyway. This means that your money would have been wasted.

Conversely, if you are renovating hardwood, buyers can either keep the floor as it is or buy their own carpet.

Q. I want to sell my house, but I am considering marketing the property myself in order to avoid paying a 5% or 6% commission to a professional sales agent. If I sell the house myself, would I be legally obligated to disclose any issues to a buyer even though I don’t have a real estate license?

A. Yes, you will need to disclose any flaws in your home that you know – or should have known – even if you don’t hire a licensed professional to do the marketing work for you. All sellers should follow their state’s disclosure laws, whether or not an agent is involved.

Any wise buyer who wishes to purchase your property will make the offer conditional on obtaining a satisfactory report from a professional home inspector. So any flaws that you don’t disclose will likely be discovered anyway.

Even if the inspector misses a problem, big or small, you could still be sued by the buyer if you don’t disclose it. It should also be noted that inspection firms and their attorneys have a good track record when it comes to imposing any financial liability resulting from the successful non-disclosure of a buyer’s legal action on the shoulders of the buyer. seller rather than the inspector.

Selling a home is a complicated process, filled with many business and legal issues. This is why I always suggest that sellers hire a licensed real estate agent or broker, unless they have a lot of experience in buying and selling homes.

No one wants to pay an agent thousands of dollars to sell their house. But it’s money well spent if the agent’s marketing expertise fetch a higher price than the seller could get by doing it alone, solves any headaches the transaction may involve, or helps. avoid a lawsuit after the transaction closes.

• For the Straight Talk About Living Trusts booklet, send $ 4 and a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope to David Myers / Trust, PO Box 4405, Culver City, CA 90231-4405.

© 2016, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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