On the July 23, 2012, I filed a complaint on housing discrimination with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. On housing discrimination, HUD writes:
Housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability is illegal by federal law. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your rights have been violated, you can file a fair housing complaint.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
In Switzerland, one has to refinance one’s mortgage every few years. Yet, as a direct result of US policy, the following banks personally told me that they will not refinance my mortgage since I am a “US Person”:
- Bank Coop
- AXA Bank
- Migros Bank
- Valiant Bank AG
- Hypothekarbank Lenzburg
- Swissquote Bank
- FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG
Concerning my mortgage history, the current lender wrote:
All experiences with [SwissPinoy] and the bank have been very positive. There has never been a problem with any of their business relations. We are very pleased with all of our dealings with [SwissPinoy]. Our experiences would indicate that there is a high degree of integrity and responsibility in the way [SwissPinoy] conducts their financial affairs. Therefore, we consider them to be respectable, honest, trustworthy and of good standing and repute. This data is based on actual data and experience.
The Swiss government informed me that banks have the legal right to deny individuals mortgages based on national origin. However, since this action is the result of US policy, I filed a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. After several days, I received no response and so I called HUD and was advised to call back in about 3 weeks. Today, I was finally able to reach someone and was informed that my complaint was not on file. It had vanished. I explained that I’m probably the only US person in Switzerland who has a mortgage and was advised to resubmit the complaint.
HUD will only help Americans who are harmed by US policy in the 50 States and US territories. Americans citizens who are harmed by the US government in other nations are ignored by the US government and left on their own.
Well, no worries. I’m a US veteran and the US Home Loan program allows veterans to purchase their primary residence.
The VA Home Loan program allows veterans with qualifying income and credit to purchase a primary residence without putting any money down towards the sale price of the home, as long as that sale price does not exceed the appraised value of the home.
US Department of Veterans Affairs
So, I called VA to inquire if they would help me to refinance my mortgage since banks are refusing to lend me money simply because I’m a US veteran. Well, the US Department of Veterans Affairs informed me that it does not help American veterans who are denied mortgages for being US persons as a result of US policy. This shows that the US government is not only willing to harm innocent American citizens who served the country and are living abroad, but that it will then do nothing for them afterwards.
@victoria, I always appreciate your presence here and reading your entries on your blog. Thank you very much.
Best wishes to you and the frenchlings.
I miss seeing familiar contributors, like Just Me, and saddened, and others I haven’t seen here for a while. I hope that they are doing more rewarding things, or have escaped into non-US status freedom, but I selfishly miss all of you. Always glad to see new readers too.
I would really recommend keeping up the letter writing campaign. As Roger mentioned, write to some Congressmen with the HUD and VA responses attached and ask them what they are going to do about it. Keep bothering them. This is how Washington works.
As a second step I suggest you go write to the Inspector Generals (IG) of both HUD and VA. They have oversight and are required to make sure the agencies fulfill their mission. You should find the address and sometimes a form to file with the IG on the website of each agency. This shoulld get someones attention there.
I too may be shortly in the same boat as you re. swiss mortgage, gosh what a nightmare, for sure I have no choice and won’t get the best rate but am determined to not be homeless either.
Finally, I am going to do a follow-up post on possible activism in Washigton on banking&mortgage issues. Thanks for the inspiration.
*Thanks! I hate complaining or being a pain-in-the-neck and the last thing that I want to do is to bother stateside Americans. I just got done bothering the congress candidate staff on the issue. Tomorrow, I’ll probably either refile the complaint or bother the next line in the chain of command if expat life doesn’t end up being more important.
I established contact with Amy Webster. With nofatcat, there are now 3 Americans abroad who’s mortgages are being threatened with US policy.
@All. Thank you and lots of sloppy French kisses (bises) from Versailles and the woman with no eyebrows. 🙂
Now I’m confused !
I thought Raiffeisen wasn’t giving mortgages to “US persons”.
“…. Auf offenere Ohren stiess Wottle bei Raiffeisen,
obwohl auch die Genossenschaftsbankengruppe grundsätzlich keine
Geschäftsbeziehungen mehr mit Personen eingeht, die in den USA wohnen.
Sprecher Jens Wiesenhütter sagt aber: «Hinsichtlich Hypotheken für
Liegenschaften in der Schweiz kann davon ausgegangen werden, dass dieses
Produkt nicht dazu missbraucht wird, ausländische Steuerpflichten zu
umgehen.» Deshalb seien Ausnahmen möglich, auch bei Kunden mit Wohnsitz
USA. Wiesenhütter fügt aber bei: «Unabdingbar ist, dass der Kunde
steuerkonform ist.» Wottle kann also hoffen. Noch hat er den Kredit von
Raiffeisen aber nicht.
Read the whole article here:
It’s very confusing, but I’ve updated my list to reflect this:
*UncleTell, did you get my email around August 1st? I should have some time this weekend if you are in the area and want to go out and have a drink. 🙂
Yes I got your email, I was still on vacation then and haven’t got around to mailing you back, sorry!
I’ll have to check with the “regierig” at home about our plans this weekend 🙂
I was recently at the post finance in baden a few weeks ago and I was told that they won’t be giving mortgages to ANY “US persons” even if they are Swiss citizens living in CH! You will only be allowed the basic srvices: private konto, depositen konto, 3a (only in cash, no funds)
We must assume that the fallback in Switzerland for US persons is precisely what policy makers in the US sought to create with the FATCA regulations and the Swiss bank crackdown. I generally see this not as an “unintended consequence” though that is what they claim, but actually, that these policies makers are elated that their policies worked better than they had hoped, because the Swiss banks are flushing out all Americans from their hidden accounts in Switzerland. Soon, the same will happen in Canada and beyond. Hooray, they are thinking. This is why I have dubbed what the US policy makers are doing as “Expat Cleansing”. The United States first enacted citizenship based taxation in 1864, quite precisely to punish Americans who left the country during the Civil War in order to punish those who wished to avoid the war. The following quote is from Renunciation Guide:
Thus, the intention was to punish those who left at a time of war to make them fund the efforts of the Federal Government. The long and short of it is that the renunciation of citizenship is the only way to stop the pernicious effects of legislation (FATCA, extra-territorial taxation) whose obvious intention is Expat Cleansing.
FATCA might be going a little more smoothly for the US if it weren’t for pesky USP’s having our lives ruined and other nations demanding reciprocity. The US has already proven with FBAR that it is willing to turn us into grist, so it’s a matter of conscience if we make any difference . Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but to me this talk of ‘agreements’ with other nations is is a little misleading. FATCA is really a decree, isn’t it, and any agreement is just dealing with how that decree will be executed. No other nation has a bargaining chip whatsoever in these negotiations, and are really relying solely on the goodwill of the US to agree to reciprocate, which is naturally being met with resistance because of the pain it will inflict on its own financial institutions. Reciprocity was not part of the grand FATCA plan as far as I know.
As it stands, it’s full steam ahead for the FATCA train unless congress repeals it. The rest are just details.
Has there any known response from Geithner to the letter from from Senators Paul, Chambliss, DeMint and Lee, expressing their concern over any reciprocal agreement? It was dated July 25, and they requested a response within 30 days.
*UncleTell, I called Post finance at 0848 888 710 to inquire on this. The person that I spoke with had to investigate the current situation and then call back later. I was then told that I could still refinance my mortgage with them. This means that we have a bit of a contradiction between what they told you and what they told me. This is interesting since the banks that Post Finance relies on reject US clients. Valiant personally told me that they won’t refinance my mortgage. Münchener Hypothekenbank belongs to Raifffeisen which also refuses to provide mortgages to US persons, so I honestly have no clue how Post Finance can finance mortgages for US persons in Switzerland
Lately, I’ve been getting the feelings that banks are becoming more reluctant to state that I’m not welcomed, using other restrictions such as locality, equity, balance limits or US ties to determine eligibility. At the going rate, the only way that one will know for sure if one is rejected, is by paying the application fee, which could be several hundred bucks.
@bubblebustin: FATCA is really a decree, isn’t it…
Yes. The best parallel is probably gunboat diplomacy. And where the US does use a carrot and stick approach in negotiations, the carrot is never an inducement but rather a backup item with which to beat you over the head once they have worn away the stick.