and Devorah Merwitz lost their entire first floor to flooding due to
Superstorm Sandy, but still, they say, they are fortunate.
Cedarhurst residents said they’re fortunate because, unlike many Long
Islanders dealing with the issue of rebuilding their homes, the
Merwitzes had the funds saved up to immediately start doing repairs.
They have flood insurance and received a check, but have not been able
to receive the funds — almost two months later — due to the back and
forth with their mortgage company, Bank of America.
a rude surprise if you haven’t had the resources, and now they’re going
to have to wait weeks until Bank of America pulls their finger up,”
Michael Merwitz said. “I’ve heard other banks that have endorsed checks
Long Island residents are struggling to rebuild their homes after the
devastating storm, but those with mortgages have an extra hurdle to
clear before being compensated by their insurance companies because the
mortgage company must sign off on the check. Some mortgage companies
have even asked for repairs to be done before the funds are released,
which clashes with the fact that many contractors ask for payments in
advance of doing work.
“...the bank must be listed on the check,” Christina Shaw of the The Christina Shaw Agency wrote on Bellmore Patch’s Facebook page.
“If the check is above a certain amount some mortgage companies will
require their own property inspection to insure the work was completed.”
Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said practices such as this have
“resulted in a hardship for many families who lack the resources to pay
for repairs pending reimbursement. It has also slowed the overall
recovery process in my assembly district,” he wrote in a December
letter. Weisenberg recently told Patch that banks and insurance
companies “acknowledge the problem, but that doesn’t solve my problem.”
Merwitzes’ loan is held by Fannie Mae, and is a larger amount than Bank
of America can endorse at one of its locations, according to Bank of
America Spokesperson Laura Hunter. Their check had to be sent to
California to be processed, but was again delayed because it lacked the
endorsement of the “second lien servicer.”
Merwitz said he met with a Bank of America representative that was sent
to New York to deal with Sandy issues, who then handled the paperwork.
He said any delay caused by the paperwork is an error on the bank’s
Joanna Bernardini's says her experience has been easier than the Merwitzes’.
"I have JP Morgan Chase as my mortgage holder," she wrote on the Bellmore Patch Facebook page. "It has been
easy because I just go to a Chase Bank. Some mortgage companies do not
have a local bank and that would be more difficult to get the check
Still, Merwitz was reassured to at least get a response from Bank of America after weeks of silence.
“It looks like b****ing and moaning makes a difference,” he said.