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Severe Weather season creates unexpected problems for homeowners - Sequoyah County Times: Business

Severe Weather season creates unexpected problems for homeowners

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Posted: Monday, July 25, 2011 9:05 pm

Severe weather season may be coming to a close in the southern part of the United States, but widespread damage left by this year’s active storm season could be felt by homeowners in the area for years to come. In order to rebuild or make repairs, many homeowners must turn to their mortgage servicing company to endorse insurance claim checks and process payments to contractors. And when those servicing companies are out-of-state with little or no local servicing available, homeowners can find it difficult to navigate this process. Too often the result is contractors who have trouble getting paid in a timely manner and frustrated homeowners who don’t understand why it can be so difficult to convert an insurance check for repairs or rebuilding into a repaired or rebuilt home.

While many borrowers finance their home loans through local banks or mortgage brokers, the majority of these loans are quickly sold to large mortgage servicing companies which means that the customer no longer benefits from their local banking relationship after the loan is closed and servicing rights are sold.

Arvest, which has developed expertise in mortgage servicing and runs one of the largest third-party mortgage servicing companies in the nation, Central Mortgage Company, has also established itself as one of the few lenders in the region that offers not only local banking and local mortgage lending, but also local mortgage loan servicing. It does this through its Arvest Mortgage Company subsidiary that provides servicing specifically for mortgage loans made through Arvest Bank. In fact, Arvest chose to keep most of its mortgage loan servicing beginning in the 1990s because the company determined they did not like the idea of selling off customers’ mortgage loans for servicing by other companies who might not have the same commitment to customer service. As a result Arvest provides servicing for over 99 percent of the mortgage loans it makes allowing customers to receive service and resolve issues related to mortgages at more than 230 Arvest Bank branches. “There are basically two kinds of mortgage lenders; those who sell their loans and those that keep them in order to manage their customer’s experience. And, because Arvest has a local servicing company, we’ve been able to respond quickly to the victims of natural disasters in our region, like the Vilonia, Arkansas and Joplin, Missouri tornados. Customers who are able to get their issues resolved and have access to insurance money are able to recover more quickly in terms of their housing situation. For instance, we had people from our mortgage company on the ground in Joplin the day after the tornado. I know for a fact, that we were endorsing insurance claim checks for complete losses the very next day. When disasters or accidents affect our customers, we want them to know that working through their mortgage issues is as simple as walking into their nearest Arvest branch,” Bill Roehrenbeck, Arvest Mortgage president and CEO, said.

According to Roehrenbeck, many homeowners with insurance claim checks can spend weeks trying to get their check cashed because their insurance companies make the check out to both the individual homeowner and the mortgage servicing company. This requires the homeowner to get a representative from their servicing company to endorse the check; and that can be very difficult, time-consuming and disruptive to the homeowner’s efforts to rebuild and make repairs. In contrast, Arvest has more than 460-trained hazard claims endorsers working in almost every community served by the bank who are available to assist customers. “For those customers who are competing with numerous others to secure a contractor, roofer, plumber or any type of labor for their home repair, walking into the bank with a check and leaving with it endorsed and deposited is a big help,” Roehrenbeck said. Depending upon the nature of the claim, some Arvest customers will receive the money directly from their claim while others may have their funds deposited into a loss draft account from which contractors will be paid in a managed process. But in either case, getting claim checks endorsed locally is often the key to getting repairs made quickly.

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