Some homeowners in Colorado Springs say they're the victims of a local brokerage company. The business is accused of preying on people are naive about refinancing---and taking them to the cleaners.
They're supposed to help you by lowering rates, monthly payments, and even putting cash in your pocket. But we found the practices of a local group irregular, perhaps illegal.
Customers say they feel betrayed. Daisy Christion got herself a watchdog, but she wishes she had a guardian angel. Then maybe she would've known better than paying a mortgage company "after" closing. She says failing health makes it hard for her to understand the entire refinancing process. But she trusted the company, who promised to lower her interest rate and her monthly payments.
Christion was told her only out-of-pocket fee was $38.48, as her settlement statement shows. But six days after she closed, she got a knock at the door from At Ease Financial, asking for an extra $420, so she paid. "He just said that I didn't have enough," Christion said.
"I really didn't think people did this. It never has happened to me before. How do they continue to operate? If they not only have done this to me, how many others? How many others has this happened to?" This from a man we'll call Marc, who says he, too, was duped.
Marc just wanted to convert from a 30-year to a 15-year note. A nice perk---not paying a dime---but getting a cashier's check for more than $4,400. But marc says once he signed the closing papers and got the check... He was told to pay At Ease Financial an extra $2,000.
Later, when he looked over the documents, he saw At Ease already collected $9,100 for the origination and broker's compensation. So he called the company. "I did call Mr. Holiday and indicated to him that he owed me $2,000."
Mr. Holiday's response was to get a lawyer." Call for Action called the title companies involved in Daisy and Marc's transactions. Both were puzzled why anyone would collect fees after closing.
So we visited At Ease Financial and talked to CEO Robert Sanders and Vice President Susan Hopkins. They blame third party brokers who originated the loans, saying both customers weren't charged enough. In fact, they say At Ease actually collected less than it was owed.
When we told them federal officials with HUD said it was illegal to collect more than settlement papers showed, they disagreed. "There's a gray area and the only mistake that I made was that I should've got something signed at that point in time. Had I done that, none of this would've been an issue," says Sanders. He also says it doesn't happen often, but other customers will pay more than settlement statements show. "We've got loans right now that will close, that monies will be paid outside of closing."
The former president of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers says Sanders is dead-wrong. Gary Broaddus says under no circumstances should anyone ask a customer for money after closing. "Once you execute that closing statement, that is final. So there should be nothing additional needed after that. So this is not normal."
Broaddus says both Daisy and Marc should file a complaint with the District Attorney.'s office. And they have. But since Colorado is one of a few states that doesn't license mortgage brokers, he says unethical, even illegal practices can continue.
That's why the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers is pushing the legislature to pass a law requiring brokers to be licensed after passing background checks and a test. "We want those felons out of our business. They have those types of standards in other states. Consumers are very surprised and angry to learn that there is no regulation."
The district attorney's office is now investigating At Ease Financial.
Tips for home refinancing
If you have a refinancing problem or complaint, contact the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers:
You can also contact Gary Broddus through his office web site, Green Mountain Mortgage: