I used Lending Tree for a refinance and feel their business practices are unethical at best. After speaking with a loan officer, I was given some numbers over the phone and was told I needed to lock in right away so as to not let this excellent rate slip away. I felt the pressure to act quickly and agreed to pay the $600 non-refundable deposit (which I still have no idea what I received by paying this money). I did not receive a Good Faith Estimate ("GFE") until after the $600 was charged, but was told my closing costs would amount to approximately $4,000 on a $180K loan. From that point I supplied all the necessary documentation and set up a time for their approved appraiser to come to my house and perform the appraisal. I had to keep emailing my service representative, Geo Garcia, to verify he had all the necessary documentation. He was pleasant enough to deal with when speaking to him on the phone. I then received a copy of the appraisal and it met the qualifications for the loan. At this point, I was assured by Geo that everything was ahead of schedule and that it should be clear sailing for the rest of the way. I checked in a few more times (as I never heard anything back) and he stated it was in underwriting and that just takes time (approximately 3 weeks). On the last day I had to sign the paperwork to meet the deadline before the rate expired (the rate I had paid $600 to lock in), I received a call from Geo stating that someone with Lending Tree did not agree with the appraisal (the appraisal done by their approved appraiser) and was therefore revaluing my property at $40K less than its appraised value. This dramatically reduced my loan and I was upset and confused. I made it clear that I didn't feel this was correct and requested to speak with the person who made this adjustment (as Geo did not claim to understand why this change was made, only that my loan would now need to be adjusted). Geo stated that I could not speak to anyone about this, but I was allowed to give Lending Tree comparables that justified the value reached by their own appraiser. I did this (following all of their guidelines regarding proximity to subject and date of sale). Geo acknowledged that the comparables seemed to justify their original appraisers estimate, but it would need to be reviewed by people I could not communicate with. He stated this could take up to three business days to complete the entire review process. He also explained that the 30 day would be able to be extended to accommodate the time required for the review process. After emailing or calling every day, I finally was told (five business days later) that those controlling the decision rejected the comparables and their own appraiser. If I wanted a loan through them, it would be for $30K less, the closing costs would actually be higher (now $7K) and I would need to pay an additional $400 to lock the rate for additional 10 days. Additionally, there was no way to get back my $600 deposit back if I decided to not refinance my loan through them.
I want this to serve as a cautionary tale for those deciding to do business with Lending Tree. They don't care about your loan and once they have your $600, they are free do what they like (change the finance charges, decline their own appraisers value by someone who isn't from the same state and hasn't even seen the house) and the service drops precipitously as the consumer has no repercussions and no way of getting back the $600. Do yourself a favor and go with a local bank you can trust or at least an institution that doesn't charge the upfront, non-refundable fees.
Product or Service Mentioned: Lendingtree Refinance.
Location: Chicago, Illinois