Oh how mainstream media fails us. Here’s a story that you probably haven’t heard. A lesbian couple in New York who filed a federal law suit against Countrywide Home Loans.
Committed to their relationship, the couple moved in together. To share responsibility for the mortgage and to protect their property rights, they decided to add one partner to the others existing mortgage. They contacted Countrywide and were given instructions on how to accomplish the goal of adding the second partner. The couple completed the necessary paperwork and waited for a response.
Instead of sending a letter of confirmation, Countrywide threatened foreclosure. They claimed the partner who originally obtained the mortgage breached her agreement by changing the deed. Countrywide demanded payment in full of the outstanding mortgage within 30 days.
Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of the couple and I’m interested to see the outcome. But in the meantime, I’ve been wondering how this will affect members of our community. Will LGBT couples rush to change their mortgages? I forwarded the article to members of a Bay Area lesbian listserv and received varied responses.
One woman commented she has a mortgage with Countrywide for property in California. She transferred her mortgage to a trust with no problem. Although it’s a slightly different scenario, she reminds us the laws differ from state to state. In California our partners can be on our deed without being on the mortgage and it’s not a problem. She also mentioned New York has additional common laws non-residents may not be familiar with. I thanked her for her perspective and read the next e-mail response.
The second woman told the story of her experience with Countrywide. She held her primary mortgage with them and recently took out a home equity line of credit. She bluntly stated “it was not a good experience”. She wrote them when they solicited feedback about her experience and never heard a reply. While I’m not sure her issue with Countrywide involved a partner situation, their lack of response is telling.
Finally the third e-mail response was a positive experience. The woman and her partner refinanced their mortgage with Countrywide in 1999 and got a great deal through their broker. They had no problems putting both partners on the mortgage. Eight years later, the couple is still together and still with the Countrywide mortgage.
What are your experiences? Is your mortgage with Countrywide and are you contemplating changing it because of this lawsuit? Does media coverage exposing companies like this make you reconsider who you do business with? How do you feel when incidents like this are kept quiet or out of the main spotlight? Share your thoughts and experiences below.