Bank of America steps up loan modifications
Consumers continue to report that mortgage servicers are difficult to work with.
Under pressure from the Obama administration, Bank of America says it has stepped up its efforts to modify mortgages through the White House's Home Affordable Modification Program.
Bank of America now says more than 12,700 of its mortgage holders have a permanent Home Affordable modification, up from nearly 3,200 a month earlier. Another 13,700 permanent modifications are pending, meaning final modified loan terms have been approved and documents have been sent for the customers' signatures, which will be their final step to a completed modification.
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The program began almost a year ago, with a strong government incentive for mortgage servicers to modify mortgages for struggling homeowners to help avoid rising foreclosures. But until now, very few loans were modified under the program.
In fact, many homeowners reported to ConsumerAffairs.com that nearly all servicers were difficult to deal with, asking that documents be faxed multiple times, stringing out the process, and in the end denying the modification or waiting until the property went to foreclosure.
And despite Bank of America's reported improvement, it apparently can't help everyone.
"We have submitted an application for the Home Affordable housing program … to help us, and Bank of America has denied us twice," Bea, of Temecula, Calif., said in a complaint to ConsumerAffairs.com this week. "First because we don't have enough income and second, that we received $353 a month more income and extra $50 for food, we don't qualify."
The bank said it is taking "extraordinary measures" to reach customers who face deadlines for providing necessary documentation for consideration of a permanent modification.
"This initiative entails mail, telephone and door-to-door outreach -- averaging more than a dozen contacts per customer -- aimed at encouraging and helping eligible homeowners meet their documentation requirements and avoid falling out of the program," Bank of America said in a press release.
April, of Albuquerque, N.M., reported a somewhat different experience with Bank of America. It began, she said, when she called the mortgage servicer to say she was having trouble paying her mortgage and to request a modification.
"I spoke with Louie, who took all my financial information and told me he had an offer for a new mortgage trial payment of $967.20 for three months and if we could make that payment for three months our loan would be modified to a new affordable payment," April told ConsumerAffairs.com. "After making the three payments I called to find out what the status of the modification was and the rep told me there was no record of an offer or loan modification and there was nothing they could do."
HAMP resulted in only 66,465 permanent modifications by the end of December, according to the Treasury Department. That compares with its goal of up to 4 million by 2012.
Related reading at ConsumerAffairs.com:
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