Bank of America will more than triple its number of assistance centers for homeowners facing foreclosure, bringing the total to 40 in 22 states, Charlotte Observer staff writer Kirsten Valle Pittman reports.
Beginning this month, the Charlotte-based bank plans to open 28 new centers – including one in Raleigh, the first in North Carolina – in some of the places hit hardest by the recession and lingering mortgage troubles.
Seven new sites are opening in California and three in the Detroit area, among other cities. The centers allow customers to work face to face with loan professionals, who counsel homeowners, help them through the loan modification process and, in some cases, make on-site decisions about customers’ mortgages.
“Although we see signs of improvement, including slowing mortgage delinquencies, many homeowners continue to struggle to make their payments as a result of hardships in today’s economic environment,” Bank of America mortgage outreach executive Rebecca Mairone said in a news release.
The bank plans to announce additional openings in the second half of the year. Spokesman Dan Frahm said Charlotte will be among the locations the bank considers if it expands the assistance center network in the future.
Meanwhile, “Charlotte has been a focus of Bank of America-hosted events for distressed customers” with another event coming up this month, he said.
Since Bank of America’s first mortgage assistance center opened in 2009, counselors have met with more than 17,000 homeowners, including more than 3,700 during the first quarter of 2011, the bank said.
The nation’s biggest bank continues to wrestle with mortgage losses largely inherited from its 2008 Countrywide Financial purchase. Last month, the bank and other large servicers signed agreements with federal regulators requiring improvements to foreclosure and loan modification processes.
State attorneys general are also seeking a settlement with Bank of America and other major banks over their mishandling of foreclosures and loan modifications.
Other big banks have taken similar steps to help customers through assistance centers. JPMorgan Chase announced in February it’s opening an office this year in Charlotte to help struggling homeowners with their mortgages. The new office is one of 25 “homeownership centers” in 19 states opening in 2011, the New York-based bank said.
Wells Fargo has 27 “home preservation centers” around the country but none in the Carolinas. It also hosts workshops to help mortgage customers and plans to double the number of those events this year compared to last, spokesman Jason Menke said.
Charlotte Observer staff writer Rick Rothacker contributed.