California to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Bank Banco Popular is Stealing From Us

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I am too busy to go into a big detailed and researched story on Banco Popular and how it got started in Puerto Rico. What I can tell you is this, don’t open an account there. My experience with them in the past two months has convinced me it’s time to change banks, and now I may even have to get a lawyer involved to be able to cash in on the 2 year CD I opened with them two years and 8 days ago. So, that is the premise for two separate rants about my experience with Banco Popular and why I recommend you opening an account somewhere else (please feel free to suggest other banks based on your experiences. It will help Summer and I and all the other readers that come here everyday researching Puerto Rico Banks).

Popular Mortgage | Banco Popular Mortgage Division

As everyone knows that pays attention to the sensationalism passed off as news on the television everyday, the world is in a financial crisis. The sky is falling and chicken little (strong rooster in PR) is running around confused causing hysteria. Well, such is capitalism, and those of us who did not live over extended on our credit and ‘perceived’ value of our homes for the past ten years can now reap the benefits of being financially responsible consumers. Right? I don’t think so.

I filled out the paperwork and payed Banco Popular over $700 to survery, appraise and do all the paperwork associated with refinancing our Rincon home (primary resident) and just last week (after multiple phone calls and visits) they told me the offer has changed, I need a second appraisal (another $150) and they raised my required hazard insurance (equivalent to home owners insurance) from $65 a month to $281.53 a month! They also added a $2,000 fee that they labeled as a mortgage loan discount (FYI Banco Popular: if it’s a discount, you subtract money, not add it, it’s the little button on your calculator that looks like a plus sign, without the vertical line) and they added a $2,600 cancellation fee for canceling my old loan to refinance with the new one. All this has been making me furious. I am dealing with mortgage brokers who answer yes/no questions with a 10 minute explanation that always ends up with some sort of sales person style tie down and a question back to me along the lines of: “are you ready to move forward. sign the paperwork today!”

You have got to be fricking kidding me. Four months and counting on a refinance with Banco Popular? Aside from all the new fee’s they added, they are trying to ignore them and just get me to close the deal. Here is what I have for your deal Banco Popular. I curse you to eat Noni for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of your life. When you get sick, I hope some comes out your nose and it burns and you smell that noni puke for days and days.

Banco Popular | Investments and CD Accounts

When we bought our house, we agreed to place 20% of the value of our home in a 2 year CD Account with Banco Popular as collatoral that we were not going to default on a home that was not finished construction. Heck, all our property and the unfinished home wasn’t enough, which I was cool with. I make interest off the money for two years, Banco Popular doesn’t have to worry about selling the frame of a house and we’re all good. Well, now it’s two years later and they won’t let me cash in my CD Account with them. They tell me that they need some collateral for the mortgage. Hmmm, Isn’t my 5 bedroom, 3 bath house (marble, granite, mahogany) the type of collateral most banks have on mortgages? More over, I received a letter two weeks ago saying that I had a 5 days grace period to pick up the check (cashed in CD Account) or it would be automatically re-instated for two years. But now, I go in and ask for my money and they say there is a hold on it from the office in San Juan. I have been in the Rincon office of Banco Popular 3 times this week and everytime they say they are working on it.

Today, I contacted a Puerto Rico real estate lawyer and then went into the bank. I told them I was not going to leave until the ‘mix up’ was resolved. The Rincon branch manager did not know what was going on and passed the task on to someone else earlier in the week. Today, I walked right into his office, sat down at his desk and told him that if they couldn’t provide a reason (contract with my signature on it) to continue holding my money without me making interest on it, I was not going to leave his office. I told him I would ruin his day if he didn’t pick up the phone and start making phone calls.

Ultimately, the reason for all this is because they can not find my original Popular Mortgage paperwork. I told them that I have a copy and I’ll bring it in so they can give me my money. They said that the paperwork had to be internal Banco Popular paperwork. Ok, so let me get this straight here; Banco Popular is disorganized. Banco Popular lost my mortgage paperwork. Banco Popular is unsure what is going on, so instead of giving me my money that I signed into a two year account (they have copies of the two year CD paperwork), they are going to hold on to it until they can get their business more organized.

I thought putting all that in writing would make me feel better. The only time my blood pressure even dropped a little bit was at the mention of our daughter. And now it’s back up again. Here is how I classify all this, and this is the end of my rant. I need to get back to work:
Puerto Rico Bank Banco Popular is Stealing From Us

Comments

56 thoughts on “Puerto Rico Bank Banco Popular is Stealing From Us

  1. Rob

    BPPR sucks. Not in the good way. In the shit way.

    They’re like the Bank of America of Puerto Rico, without the convenience of Bank of America.

    Reply

  2. katrina kruse

    Wait til you pay off the loan – it’ll cost you several thousand dollars to do the “get the bank name off and your’s on the title” paperwork. Lawyer gets 1% of the loan amount, Hacienda gets something, costs to file the papers blah blah. I want my money in a sock or tree hollow – a cash economy here is the only way to go…

    I have a CD at Oriental (I talked them up to 4% for a 6 month CD) and it comes up next week. I’ll report back on how that goes. I guess maybe the rates are negotiable because they never give you your money back? We shall see…katrina

    Reply

  3. Marie

    BPPR is total suckitude, dude. When I moved from the States back to PR a few years ago, I kept my account with Pentagon Federal Credit Union (out of pure lazy-ass syndrome) and it really saved my finances. Pure and simple: All PR banks SUCK.
    Horrible service, bad deals. Not worth it.
    The only branch for PenFed is inside Buchannan, but you can do all of your banking electronically or by regular mail. And they have customer service available 24/7.
    Check them out: http://www.penfed.org

    I am pretty sure they are also offering mortgage products for the PR market.

    Reply

  4. Minerva

    I found Banco Popular convenient and accommodating ( because they don’t require that you change your driver licence to a Puertorican one, which I, as a temporary resident did not want to do, especially to avoid dealing with cumbersome PR bureaucracy), the service professional… but, of course, I did not need a mortgage, so no one tried to convince me to open any CD accounts or so: I only keep a few thousand dollars in the banks, the rest elsewhere… which is another story, but even while living in PR I kept some cash in PR, some in USA and some in Europe (legally: I report all interest to the IRS).

    Reply

  5. Annie

    We were actually just pondering getting a new home loan in PR with Banco Popular…. might have just changed my mind….

    Reply

  6. jeff

    I deposited a check from Charles Shwab on Monday to our bank account at Bancopopular. The money was quickly taken out of our account. Bancopopular says its “in process”. Its been “in process” since Tuesday. All I know is I don’t have the money to pay bills.

    Maybe we should have used Shwab for our banking needs. They have checks, ATMs, bill pay, ect.

    What Katrina said about paying the loan off!!!! To put our name on the deed and take the banks name off will cost $1000’s of dollars!!!! I cant talk about it without getting upset.

    Reply

  7. Joan

    I too had an account with Banco Popular Rincon Branch when I firsr started coming here, I closed out my account with Collective Federal Savings & Loan in south Jersey and brought down a certified bank check ( which you buy from the Bank) and deposited it into my Banco Popular account. The following week I went out to buy some necessary items for the house ( Refirgerators, washing machine etc.) and wanted to withdrawl some cash from the Bank and Banco Popular would not let me, ” They said the check had not cleared yet” I told them I only needed a couple of thousand and they refused to give me my money! I immediately asked the bank manager to close out my account and he gave me a Banco Popular check which I immediately deposited into an account I opened with Western Bank.I have had no banking problems since that move to Western Bank.

    Reply

  8. Carol

    I have my mortgage with Doral Bank and my husband has an account with RG Premier Bank. That’s another shit of a bank!!! I think that Banco Popular “saw your face” (in Spanish: “te vieron la cara” and maybe they thought you were a gringo millionaire in Rincón!!!! good luck with this issue dude!!!

    Reply

  9. Ivan

    No wonder they needed $980 million from the US Treasury Department to keep from going belly up!!

    If in the end you cannot get your money, you can complain to the local “FDIC” which is the Comisionado de Instituciones Financieras (http://www.cif.gov.pr/). This is the PR government entity that regulates the local banks.

    Reply

  10. Ham

    My personal feeling is that Banco Popular, as many others here in mainland, may not be very stable right now. Somebody else said they required bailout money. There has been more than 25 banks that have failed in the US since the beginning of the year while there were some 20 banks that did so last year. You can follow the trend. The announcements are usually made after the markets close on Friday. We are looking to buy physical gold and silver overseas perhaps in Switzerland, we don’t feel too comfortable owning dollars in US banks right now.

    Since they got bailout money, can they help you investigate whether you qualify for the new Obama plan to help homeowners refinance? I don’t know all the details, but I understand that it will include help to avoid having to pay fees.

    Best of luck!

    Reply

  11. katrina kruse

    Put the money in a hole in the ground! I have always told Jeff that retirement “savings” are fake money anyway – right now our hard earned “retirement” funds are worth about what we actually put in them 10 years ago. If the money was in a sock somewhere at least it would be real and wouldn’t disappear entirely. I should have been born in a bartering/gathering time. I hate credit cards, ATHs, banks, stores, shopping, owing money on things you will never own (houses, cars, etc). I want to pay as I go. katrina

    Reply

  12. katrina kruse

    What Jeff said about Banco is true – the money stays in limbo for a while. At first I thought it was a scam to keep us from earning interest. But then we moved money from Schwab to Oriental Bank to put in a CD. The check wasn’t cashed and wasn’t cashed and wasn’t cashed for over a week and the whole time we were earning 4% on it. I think things just aren’t efficient here. The better off people grow things in their yard, sell them tax free in the streets when they have stuff and then have the milk/bacon/bread mobile stop at the house and they buy staples that way. Or they take the free shuttle from the neighborhood into town and convert their fruit dollars into staples that way. Hmmmm, I earned 10 tax free bucks today, I’ll buy some pollo and rice and beans and make a few meals. Kind of a nice way to live instead of hordeing. katrina

    Reply

  13. Ham

    I think I agree with Katrina. I am ready to start gathering tuna cans, krugerrands, and ammo. I kid you not, here in Virginia ammunition sells totally within the hour of the truck getting to the store. I guess ammunition could be good for bartering too in the future. Are we approaching Mad Max world? “The Lost Decade” could be a good way to describe our 401K, I think I’ll be working until I’m 80 years old.

    Reply

  14. Chirs H.

    I am not sure about the best bank in Puerto Rico, but my parents have always kept retirement Cd’s at Oriental. As a federal employees they were subject to both US Federal and Puerto Rico Taxes. In Puerto Rico most people–those not paid by the FEd’s–only pay Puerto Rican taxes. They’d put the money in Oriental because it would lower their high PR tax burden. My father has had no problem getting his money, and still maintains account there.

    As for your refinance–I got screwed recently too, by my credit union no less. It was on a regular morgage. The deal went from a ten percent deal at 5.3% set in mid February to suddenly being 15 percent at the same rate as rates dropped in early April. I said I’d agree if they’d adjust to the current lower rates as the original rate was based on the higher rates in mid February. I thought this was a logical request due to my putting down an extra 22,250 dollars and still mainatining the same credit rating. Quid pro quo–more money down, same good 790-800’s credit= best rate available. They said they’d fly it by the manager–he’d get back to me in a day. A day passes and no call, I begin to try and speak to this manager. Well he or she must be a phantom because at the time of closin 3 days later I had still not spoken to the manager, the deal was 15% take it or leave it. I too was over a little over a grand into appraisers, paperwork fees etc. What was I to do? The house was appraised at 560, it had sold in the past at 750, and I was only paying 445 with no closing. Three bdr, 3 bath with pool in Downey CA–ten-fifteen minutes from downtown LA…I signed, and rationalized it to myself as I had been screwed for half a percent interest but gained 22,250 in added equity. As a salaried public employee the half a percent will help my tax write off situation for the time being as it’s hard for me to hide money–save my 403 and tax deferred child care and health accounts. I’d liked to have gotten a better rate on the interest, but the money down was no big deal since I had it no problem.

    I know the money you already put out is killing you, but maybe you should consider shopping; they are dragging their feet. Since it’s a re-fi you kind of call the shots. They may try and screw you on the value of the home and thus your equity and then stick it to you on the interest rate and collateral. Remember it is calculated risk–by devaluing the property they make it seem as if there is more risk involved. But then again so may everyone else.

    Here is something to know. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but since I haven’t seen anyone mention it on your page, I guess I will. Don’t get me wrong your place look great–straight out of a magazine. The tile the wood are awsome, but in all banks eyes you have some issues with your place.

    The thing they will get you on is your roof and the home’s location. I am pretty sure the roof construction is why they want the higher insurance. In Puerto Rico, banks and insurance companies hate any roof that isn’t poured concrete. An engineer friend of my father’s built a beach house in Naguabo with a standing seam steel roof–had trouble getting a mortgage and insurance. A huricane hazard you know; increased liability and all that junk said the powers that be. Three hurricanes later it is still standing strong with no problem. Yet in even meeting Florida’s timber construction codes with tie downs and the like, it isn’t enough in Puerto Rico–hell steel I-beams and bolts aren’t either on residential dwellings. Cement is king. The timber construction will always cause your home trouble in the area of valuation.

    Second is location, location. You love the rural life, hell I do too. But for big dollar homes in Puerto Rico you need ocean views and controlled access. Gated communities are seen as good and symbols of status. My parents’ home sits directly over the Rio Mar Beach resort in Rio Grande–views of two golf courses and all of Luquillo Beach. You can see the whole eastern coast even Culebra, Vieques and St. Thomas on clear days. The house is big two completed strories with 5 rooms, 4 baths, a pool and a third story that is all poured in and empa~etado(plastered)and easily converted into a third floor, apartment etc. The house is awsome, but it will never be worth per square foot what a two bead room walk up condo is worth in the gated community at the bottom of the hill. These walk-ups aren’t even in Rio Mar, they are next to it behind a small ridge. They have no ocean view, no nice breeze, no land–yet the have control de acceso–controlled access. That is what Banks like in Puerto Rico for top dollar loans. Now I know you probably aren’t refinancing 400,000, but even if you’re doing between 150,000 to 250,000 they are going to give you trouble in what are known as las parcelas. Welcome to barrio living, the man is always around!

    Keep your chin up. Your house is great, and every Puerto Rican would be proud to own it as a small finca, hell anyone would. Yet the banks are bastards. Calculated risk their prime motivator, funny how they couldn’t see no money down variable interest loans in the IE and Arizona as enormous risks. I guess the lure of being able to jack interest rates at wil and collect at userous rates is too much of a draw. I personally like the work hard, save, and spend wisely on deals model myself. Never been one for loan sharking and blood sucking.

    Good luck.

    Reply

  15. Roy

    I live in Canada and I see that a Canadian bank has branches in PR. Fortunately Canadian banks did not experience the problems of the US banks. Their service in Canada is very good, but I don’t know about PR. Anyone has any experience with them?
    http://www.scotiabankpr.com/anglo/sucursalesycajeros.asp

    I am thinking about buying a vacation / retirement country home in PR, so I have been searching the web for facts. Thanks Chris H. for the detailed info. I see most buildings in PR built of concrete blocks, but how many of those hollow blocks are actually filled with conc grout and rebar? Could prob stand up to a hurricane but would crumble in an earthquake, unlike a properly built wood frame or steel frame building. I read somewhere that Mayaguez is rated the same risk as Seattle for a big quake, and the bay of Mayaguez for tsunami.

    Reply

  16. Bruny

    Hi and congratulations on your pregnancy, the best of luck to you and Summer. Actually, Dr. Jimenez delivered my grandson 20 yrs. ago at Bella Vista Hospital in Mayaguez.

    Thanks for posting about your trials and tribulations with Banco Popular. I bought a house in Gurabo last October to retire at the end of this year and I was planning on having my SS (Medicare) and pension checks deposited straight to Banco Popular… I don’t think that’s going to happen though. I’m thinking about it twice before I hook up this bank. It seems to me that they have very poor customer relations and are very unprofessional. I wouldn’t want these people putting my financial future in jeopardy. I must do some research on how to manage my finances in PR.

    I wish you the best of luck and I look forward to more progress postings from you.

    Reply

  17. jaime

    i read your story there is a regulatory agency i pr that deals with banks for these types of issues you can call daco the dept of consumer affairs and they will give you their contact info

    Reply

  18. sean & lisette

    hey stefan congrats again to you and summer…
    we are having some crazy a** bank problems too!! its driving us to drink and curse ALOT!!! can you give me a call (516 330 3557 sean) we’ve met a couple of times before and are friends of rt & nora…we would love to pick your brain a bit!! thanks!!

    Reply

  19. Luis

    I’ve had many bad experiences with BP. I sugest you go with RG Premier Bank. 0 Service charge and they actually pay you $.25 everytime you use their ATM machines contrary to BP that charge 1.50 for the ATM’s if you are not one of their customers.

    By the way, amazing stuff you and your wife are creating here in the island. Very inspiring ! Keep up the great work and enjoy the new family.

    Reply

  20. aura

    Banco Popular is the worst bank in the island. Besides it owns all information of residents of PR because tradionally has been the bank of the goverment. So its a scary institution
    Banks globally are in bad shape but I would recomend Western Bank

    Reply

  21. Debbie

    Hi. I am late to this party, but also have a mortgage with BPPR. I would like to refinance it, but given the trouble we had with refinancing our house in the US, I’m guessing that it will be too much hassle to do the same in PR. Basically though, on our US house, we got a similar runaround. Sales guy talks a good game, tells us he can loan us the full amount of our equity, then they “discover” even though I disclosed it, that we have a HELOC. We must pay off (or roll into the new mortgage) the HELOC to get that rate. So we walk away. The HELOC is 2% interest; I’d be a fool to pay it off, even with a 4.5% first mortgage. So they offer us a different mortgage, with a higher rate, but aren’t willing to loan us the full amount of our equity, even though we have a 60/40 loan to value ratio. It’s all about fees; they don’t care about credit ratings, stability of their borrowers or LTVs. The banks are in bad shape, and they are going to do anything possible to get more fees out of their customers. Watch out, because credit card companies are next. Given your nightmare, I am not going anywhere near trying to refi in PR. Love your blog; hope to follow in your footsteps one day – from ATL to PR (Culebra).

    Reply

  22. Summer

    Scott – The banks here are FDIC insured by the US government, which would lead you to believe that they have to follow the same rules, BUT thing work in very interesting ways down here, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have to or just plain refused to abide by the rules. I am planning on reporting Banco Popular to the FDIC, so we’ll see if that does any good.

    Reply

  23. Fran and Steve

    Summer, let us know if you get a reply from the FDIC. I wonder if PR banks get away with crap because they’re not being scrutinized (lack of oversight) by the Fed or if there really are different accounting rules for PR. My first inkling of these issues was when we got our condo mortgage with Popular and our interest rate was a full percentage point higher than it would have been on the mainland. I never understood why. Thanks. Fran

    Reply

  24. Will

    I lived in San Juan for fifteen years and dealt with mortgage bankers twice. Got screaming mad both times. I think the problem is simply a desire to get one over on a gringo. Happens every time you run into a petty official. Only solution is to keep your dealings with these clowns to a minimum. Absolute minimum!

    Reply

  25. JP Matthew

    I really enjoy how descriptive and fluid the comments are… A healthy dose of lol is imperative in PR… jp matthew

    Reply

  26. vroomp

    A veteran Illinois congressman embroiled in a big-city corruption scandal last year unscrupulously pressed the federal government to bail out a Puerto Rican bank operated by his wife and several major political donors.

    Eight-term Democrat Luis Gutierrez conveniently omitted his longtime close ties to the failing Banco Popular when he directed the Treasury Department to save it, claiming it was a special case in need of an urgent rescue. In a letter to the nation’s Treasury Secretary Gutierrez said it’s in the best interest of the U.S. government and Puerto Rico that the failing bank continues providing services to maintain a safe and sound financial system.

    He actually tells the Treasury Secretary that helping Banco Popular is of “utmost importance” to 4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico and minority communities across the country. The once-secret correspondence was obtained, under the Freedom of Information Act, by a news publication dedicated to covering Capitol Hill.

    Thanks to Gutierrez’s intervention, the government gave the Puerto Rican bank $935 million although it continues to struggle, losing $361 million in the last nine months, according to the newspaper that broke the story. In ardently advocating for the taxpayer bailout, Gutierrez never mentions his close association with Banco Popular or that his wife, Soraida, was a senior vice president at the problematic financial institution. He also leaves out that bank executives have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his political campaigns.

    Last year Gutierrez was embroiled in another scandal involving a political donor who benefited from his influence in obtaining suspicious zoning changes in Chicago. Gutierrez heavily lobbied the city’s mayor to back a controversial multi million-dollar development for a campaign donor who had just given him $200,000.

    Earlier this week the popular legislator, who chairs a key congressional immigration task force, offered a sneak preview of the “compassionate” and “comprehensive” law the Obama Administration is having him craft to legalize the nation’s estimated 12 million undocumented aliens. Long an advocate of illegal immigrants, Gutierrez wants them to have a pathway to citizenship, guaranteed humane treatment in U.S. prisons and discounted tuition at public colleges and universities.

    Reply

  27. REINALDO LUGO

    People relax before trashing Banco Poppular name please do your homework.
    look at these facts
    1)Banco Popular ranked 784 LARGEST COMPANY in the WORLD by FORBES MAGAZINE
    2)Banco Popular ranked Best Company to work by Fortune Magazine
    3)Banco Popular Best Consumer internet Bank in Puerto Rico by Global Finance
    these are the facts that i found if for some reason dont like Banco Popular go to another financial institution and stop bitching

    Reply

  28. Karl Weber

    I opened an account with Cooperativa Rincon to purchase some land and build a home and it has been nothing but positive. Everything was written out clearly with no tricks or gimmicks at closing. They require a good credit history and 15-20% down payments which in my opinion all banks should require. When you become a member, they give almost 3% on savings and around 5% dividend on the shares account. They are the largest cooperativa by deposits in Puerto Rico.

    Reply

  29. Karl Weber

    Since we are on the topic of banks, a little FYI. There are currently three banks in Puerto Rico that have been served with Cease and Desist orders from the FDIC.
    They are:
    1) Western Bank
    2) Eurobank
    3) R-G Premier Bank of Puerto Rico

    Here is the link to the problem banks list, it is sortable, so click on state and scroll down to PR and you can read the FDIC orders. http://cr4re.com/PBLMar0510.html

    Reply

  30. Rosa

    I agree with Karl, we also got a contruction loan from the cooperativa and it has been a positive experience. And great dividends! We went to other banks, and even though I can’t say that they were nasty or thiefs or anything else, we can say they cooperativa gave us a better deal.

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  31. Ida Ritter

    I worked for Banco Popular in Prospect Heights, Illinois, for the Loan Dept as a Loan Officers Assistant I left the bank approximately in 2004 when the loan dept faded. I had a loan with the bank for $7,000 which I continue paying until finish, when I left I was told that the interest will be written off.
    Today I recceived a call from some lawyers trying to collect $400 and I was in shock, but I do not get intimidated too easy. I am a retired lady already which only income is the social security pension so I contacted the Bank and was given the name of a Ivan Chico to talk to about that matter because I was told he sold debts to collectors,how about that? But I will resolve this matter or else, I will even will write to the President of this bank if I have to, I was an emplyee of this bank and a very darn good one who paid her debt to its total, and no way I will pay them interest amounting according to them to 400 dollars. Why I was not notified about at all, and they let 6 years go by, I got news for them. But this is Banco Popular.

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  32. REINALDO

    Ida i had a similar situation with a bank here in Orlando. First Union was the name of the bank and i have to use the service of an attourney.Every problem there is a solution and i did it guess what First Union is not longer in bussisness but Banco Popular is . I got an advice work with a credit union instead there are thousands everywhere

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  33. mark

    Banco Popular is a disorganized POS. I have two mortages with them, and when I went to refinance one of the properites that they hold the mortage, it took them 8 months to do it. My credit was perfect, but it was just incompetence on their part. Missing docs, lost docs, vacation time for the loan processor, incorrect numbers from the good faith estimate, and in the end, I got screwed 23,000 dollars in charges from them including the BS stamp tax that Acevedo Villa added to pay for the 25,000 “free money” he was giving to the new home buyers here in PR. So, here is my advice. RENT her in PR, do NOT buy, there is no way of knowing what is next in this third world POS. Fortuno just doubled everybodys Property Taxes because they have a fiscal emergency, as nobody here knows how to add two cents. A year and a half later I just sold a unit and BPPR has had the ‘Platinum Qualified” client’s paperwork for 10 weeks now.

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  34. Marina Lawson

    I just happened to find your website while researching refinancing options here in PR.
    I had to chuckle in reading all the comments because we have had ALL the same issues and even more with RG.
    When first moving here in 2004 our loan officer after 4 months still did not confirm our US occupations despite us telling her the dates we planned on quitting to move here (proof of income was required for the loan). The day we arrive in PR we get a phone call that our loan was not approved b/c our personal dept back in the states said we no longer worked there. Needless to say we had to scramble to gather ALL our liquid assetss to pay cash for the purchase.
    Now purchasing our current home we did recieve a loan with RG in 2005. We just went to refinance, however they want $8600 in fees to do this PLUS we have to pay $400 appraisal and I am sure more hidden fees.
    I really don’t think people here realize how they are being raped by the banks here.
    My brother just told me in San Diego they are advertizing 3.75% refinancing with a set fee of $988 to close and NO POINTS!!!
    With more bank closings here I am afraid the big 3 or 2 left will be able to do even more of what they want while everyone here will remain with their hands tied.
    They really need more competition.
    We also looked into PenFed but they do not do real estate loans in PR.

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  35. ms.ann thorp

    banco pop is INSANE! I bought a condo here 16 months ago. it’s my primary residence. after 6 months, as instructed, i applied for the homeowners property tax exemption. i hired a lawyer to do it because dealing with any beurocracy in PR is enuf to make anyone go postal. the lawyer told me it would take a week to get the exemption approval from CRIM. it took 3 months, which is fast for anything in PR. i sent the approval to the bank 8 months ago. not only didnt i receive a property tax reduction and a reimbursement for the overpayment, i got a substantial property tax INCREASE. banco pop keeps saying they are working on it.
    why does it take forever to get a homeowners prop tax exemption in PR when anywhere in the states it is immediate and automatic?
    also, in getting the mortgage, banco pop broke several disclosure laws and when i asked for info about the APR, they outright lied to me.
    my advice is no one from the states should buy property in PR. they have a huge, cumbersome, inconvenient, incompetent beurocracy here that is impossible to deal with. working with a bank in the states is effortless compared with PR. i just dont know why they are so incompetent here. and that is not just banks.

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  36. Joe Castro

    Wow! Sorry to read about such a bad experience. I just refi my house which I bought 1 year ago at 5.75% on a 30 yr loan and a monthly payment of $1,324.78. The new rate is 3% and mo payment dropped down to 834.84saving me about $90,000.00 off the original cost of my house and it took 8 days to refi. Just yesterday I did the closing right here in my dinning room. Bco Popular has been taking people’s money for the longest. They are actually holding you hostage due to their dis organized structure and I believe it is illegal. It’s like a “Pagaré”, the bank doesn’t care if you loose it. Then why should you suffer if they can’t find your papers?

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  37. Pete

    Thanks for your blob post. And I’m very sorry for your experience. We’re about to finance an investment property in Fajardo with BPPR, and I already can appreciate the lack of organization and sense of customer service. Everything takes 5 to 7 business days, which by the way consist of 10am to 4pm local time, minus lunch, breaks, meetings and probably some a$$ scratching. I’ll let you know how the rest of process goes. I must add that I have business accounts with BPPR and BBVA. They are both ok banks for the normal checking, savings and credit card POS systems. The problem is that there is no transparency and flow of communications between departments (mortgage, investing, trusts, credit card, etc).

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  38. Edgar Rios

    Here in orlando fl. even tho, the building have the same logos and paint, they are not the official
    BPPr, is more like a franchise, for any transactions they took more than 3 days, even is i want to send money to PR, the late fees and charges on a secure credit card are insane. My advice find a better deal.

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  39. Luis

    I was born in PR and left when I was young. I live in Texas and plan to retire in Rincon. I vacation there a couple times a year and I love the place. I plan on buying a house or land to build but Im going to pay cash. Should I expect problems? Also I plan on bringing my 2007 silverado 4 wheel drive pick up truck. Im I better off buying a vehicle there rather than transporting one. I just see the fun side of Rincon when Im there so Im I going to be in for a shock? People in Rincon seem to be really nice and I havent had any bad experiences yet. I would like to avoid going thru a Real Estate office and paying a bunch of fees. Are there any websites with local listings where you can deal directly with the owners of the property? Any info would help.

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  40. Pam

    Hi-
    First, great site! Thanks for all the fantastic info!
    Does anyone know of a bank / CU / mortgage company in the mainland that writes mortgages in PR? I have a condo here I’d like to refi, but if I can use a mainland company, I’d be much happier. Closing costs alone are beyond rediculous! Also, I have friends who bought a vacation home in Aguada. In order to avoid using PR banks they took a second mortgage on their home here in NJ and paid cash in PR. They got a better interest rate, paid far less in fees and they get all their bank correspondence in English. (Something that I still have been unable to accomplish after 6 yrs and 2 banks.) I hope this helps, and if anyone has info on a US company writing mortgages on PR properties please post it.

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  41. Fran and Steve

    @Pam. No. US banks are prohibited from issuing PR mortgages. BPPR in San Juan will give you bilingual documents if you ask; perhaps other lenders as well. Aside from the solution your Aguada friend used, there’s no way to avoid those closing costs. Only refi if interest rates are at least 1% lower than your existing mortgage. — Fran

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  42. Rosa

    I’ve been reading everyone’s post and I’m glad to know there are others who can relate. I live in NY and own a vacation/eventful retirement home in PR. I too am pissed at BPPR. I hate to call because I get upset just at the thought. You call and the phone rings with no answer and then drops. You leave e-mails and when they reply, they say they don’t have your phone number (somehow they have someone else’s number despite the fact that you have given them the number everytime. I started with them several years back with a loan for construction. Back then they were the only bank that had this. I know ’cause I checked. From construction it went to a mortgage which they then increased by 1 point. I currently have a high interest rate which I tried to refinance when the market dropped last year in 2011. It took a few months of having me run around to get them all the paper work in hopes of expediting the process (if I waited for them it would take several more weeks and the interest might change according to them) then they tell me that I would have to make some additions to my property for the lender to approve the refinancing. They estimated it (from the “tasacion” that I paid for)to be $32,000 to consider my refinancing. I have excellent credit and collateral but that did’nt matter. I believe they want to stick it to me to keep me with the high interest rate I currently have. I told them FU and to send me the documents I paid for, I’m taking my business elsewhere. I’m still waiting for the documents. There are many people complaining about this issue. I think that we can all make a petition or something and involve the US media (they love this sort of thing of going after big corporations that are screwing many hard working folks). Any thougts?

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  43. Aaron Normandin

    I want to share another F up with Banco Popular! I just moved here to Rincon. I work for a company in FLA. but travel to the USVI monthly. I deposited a check for $2500 and was told a week to clear as usual. I was on a business trip in St Croix, and my employer deposited $800 CASH into my account in Banco Popular in FLA expecting available funds right away, cash right?! NOPE!!! I couldnt get access to the $800 for 5 business days! And I had 1 day left to the funds clearing and no one, not even a branch manager would release any of MY MONEY! Reason the banks gave is that it’s the law…what law? I asked. And of course no one knows! And I was screwed in St Croix, and barely made it home! Screw Banco Popular! THEY SUCK and left me STRANDED! Closed my account and went to Scotia Bank! Screw the US and PR banks!

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  44. Claudia P.

    Hi. I just wanted to say thank you. My partner and I are in the process of informing ourselves about where to open a bank account and mortage loan., and this helped out a lot. Loving Puerto Rico so far, this place is a gem. Also, there’s mention of a casita, any photo updates?

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  45. Vito

    What do you expect you dumb fuck. Spics dont only steal hubcaps. If your wife was anywhere near hot I would tell you dont let her out alone, but it looks like you dont have that problem.

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  46. Luna

    Sad to see bank popular still screwing people over.
    After moving to PR with my family not long ago I opened an account with them. I go to college online and just recently received my first stipend ( not much over 1,000$.) After calling at 1pm I was told my money would be available at no later than 5pm. I was relieved and overall happy with this news because I have bills to pay and items to get for school. I went into the bank at 4:30pm to withdraw speak with someone about why my money was not yet posted to my account and found out the phone call was a joke. After arguing with me and telling me it was posted on a holiday I was told I would see it posted within 2 days.
    Angry I threatened to close my account and change banks the teller was a complete a**hole and pulled up my account for deletion stating ” we can happily do that right now” . I simply got up and left immediately.
    It is one thing to lie to me but to call me a liar and argue with me about my money and when it was deposited when j had spoke to my school is another entirely. As far as I’m aware direct deposit does not have a holding period and this is complete bull.
    I will most definitely be changing banks in the next few weeks, not for the inconvenience of there service but the complete lack of respect for their members but also their inability to understand when they are wrong and simply holding money they does not belong to them.

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