News Column

BofA Quicker Than Peers in Mortgage Relief

October 16, 2013

Andrew Dunn, The Charlotte Observer

bank of america

Oct. 16--Bank of America was quicker than its big-bank peers in extending help to delinquent borrowers required under a massive legal settlement, but the Charlotte bank lagged behind in helping their customers refinance, according to report released Wednesday.

By the end of 2012, Bank of America was 97 percent of the way through the relief requirements of a $25 billion mortgage settlement entered into with five large servicers last year. The accord ended investigations into shoddy mortgage servicing practices like "robo-signing," or going through large numbers of foreclosure paperwork without reading them.

A series of reports over the past year had shown the amount of mortgage relief banks had self-reported. Wednesday's report is the first look at figures audited and officially credited by the monitor overseeing the settlement.

"What we've seen is that the banks have done what they were required to do," Joseph Smith, the former N.C. banking commissioner who oversees the settlement, said in an interview.

Bank of America had the largest share of the settlement, with the requirement to provide more than $7.6 billion in relief to consumers. At the end of last year, the Charlotte bank was 97 percent of the way through.

New York-based JPMorgan Chase was second-closest to completion, with 76 percent. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo was 55 percent of the way through its requirements.

All of the banks have since said they've finished all of their requirements.

"The consumer relief programs and servicing standards are providing meaningful relief to hundreds of thousands of our customers in need of assistance," Bank of America spokesman Dan Frahm said in a statement.

"We're pleased with the validation of our crediting and the very strong progress that represents, and while we no longer submit activity for crediting toward the settlement, we continue to provide relief to our eligible customers through these important programs."

But Bank of America was farther behind its peers in offering help in refinancing mortgages for customers who were current on their payments but underwater on their loans. This assistance helps homeowners who owe more than their home is worth.

While the other banks had more than exceeded their requirements in this area, Bank of America was only 41 percent through the $948 million in refinancings it was required to complete under the settlement.

Though the banks have largely completed their monetary requirements under the settlement, they remain under scrutiny for their adherence to a set of new mortgage servicing rules that aim to force banks to clean up their practices.

Earlier this month, the New York attorney general announced plans to sue Wells Fargo over allegations it wasn't following the rules. Smith's office also imposed four new rules seeking to address areas where he has received a number of complaints. They primarily dealt with giving borrowers a chance to resubmit documents that banks claim went missing during loan modifications.


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Original headline: Bank of America quicker than peers in mortgage relief under settlement

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Source: (c)2013 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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