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A lendingtree story-when banks compete, your phone explodes

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On December 16th I decided to check out Lendingtree. I think their Facebook advertising finally got to me.

I’ve got an ARM that was looking to drift higher, and one moderately high interest rate on an investment property so figured might consolidate, lock in a reasonable rate, and attack one loan as opposed to several – also save a little with a lower interest rate on the larger loan.

Eleven days and 102 inbound phone calls from lenders later thought I’d write this up.

So the very first thing that happened was I hit submit… about eight seconds later my phone indicated there were two calls incoming. My computer, which is hooked up to Google voice, indicated there were eight calls incoming.

Now, eight calls is generally what I get in a month. I have like 26 minutes of calls last month which are mostly conversations indicating I would email someone something or asking them to text me what I needed to pick up.

My number’s been on the do not call list for several years as well, and I generally get no phone calls for anything (even my work numbers gets those “you’ve won!” spam calls).

My inbox suddenly had multiple people introducing themselves. By the time I got off the first call and mentioned I was just trying to find out rates I had five voicemails and five emails.

I talked to a couple of people, then I had two of my current loan companies contact me – I’m guessing the info came up that I was looking to refi and they wanted to handle it. OK. Lot of calls.

Then an apartment I own burned down. I’m assuming this is unrelated as I hadn’t ticked anyone off yet. I mention this because at this point I became extremely less interested in a rate lock and quite a bit interested in talking to the fire inspector, my insurance, contractors, fire mitigation people, etc.

I couldn’t ignore my phone. I had to answer every call from any area code because god forbid someone living in Nashville for 12+ years and working as a fire restoration professional have a Nashville area code.

The following Monday my phone was ringing like crazy. I talked to a few people, weeded some out by just looking at Yelp reviews – there are plenty of A+ BBB accredited businesses with 300+ testimonials that they’re horrible businesses – it’s quite easy to do everything technically correct but screw your customers evidently.

My offers started at 4.5% for a 15 and 5% for a 30 with about $4k to close. Based on what I was consolidating it appeared that it would save me money over the 10 years I expected to keep the loan, but I wouldn’t see savings for nearly two years.

I started filling out some prelim paperwork and was contacted by another company that claimed a 3.75% interest rate and slightly lower closing costs. I mentioned it to the original lender and they said they’d match it.

That offer was made because I talked on the phone for an additional 18 minutes. That’s a $1,500 a year in rate difference on $200,000 loan. OK. I still had a lot of stuff I was dealing with with the apartment fire so I said I’d think about it.

I got a call from Loandepot and mentioned I was pretty busy and what rates I’d been quoted and the guy told me he didn’t think he could quite make the rates, but he could get me a $0 closing cost as opposed to about $4000. That would mean I would start seeing a savings immediately.

And then he beat the rates. Not by particularly much, but slightly (like a tenth of a percent). But the $0 closing cost became $70. This is still going on, we’ll see how things play out. Don’t take this as an advertisement for them as it’s not a done deal.

What happened next though is I got a cold call from a phone sex line. You can hear a recording I made of the thing. I did a little research and the number had previously been owned by a loan processing company. Odd.

I have never been cold called by a phone sex line.

So yeah, expect to be flooded with banks competing for your time. They really do compete, but man forget about not being interrupted at work, sleep, etc.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.