NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) is getting serious about consumer foreclosure rates, more than tripling the number of foreclosure prevention centers it runs from 12 to 40 across 22 states.
To date, more than 17,000 Bank of America mortgage-holders have used the centers for help with delinquent mortgages.
The bank plans to open all 28 of its new centers by July, and says it will focus geographically on hard-hit areas like Detroit, Los Angeles and New Orleans. The bank adds that it will open even more loan centers in the second half of 2011, and it will beef up counselors and outreach staff to ensure the most service possible.
"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," explains Rebecca Mairone, national mortgage outreach executive for Bank of America. "Our teams at the customer assistance centers are experienced loan professionals, trained to counsel customers, follow each customer file through the entire loan modification process, make on-site decisions in many cases, and assist with other foreclosure prevention solutions if a modification is not possible."
Bank loan specialists usually can get same-day loan modification answers to about one-third of mortgage holders who walk in the door, bank officials say.
The bank also says that it has already helped out 3,000 mortgage customers in the first quarter of 2011.
Bank officials add that the centers are Bank of America’s way of simplifing the process and pain of asking for help with troubled mortgages.
"One of the most difficult challenges we face is encouraging homeowners who are behind on their payments to respond to our invitations to work with them toward a solution," adds Mairone. "We have made a commitment to double our outreach staff this year, provide our customers with more ways to contact us and in locations that are as convenient and comfortable for them as possible."
Bank of America no doubt is taking the high road in its media message – emphasizing how the bank wants to help delinquent homeowners down on their financial luck. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But offering more ways for customers to keep paying their mortgages is good business too for Bank of America. The last thing it wants or needs are more home foreclosures, and in this situation it looks like BofA’s efforts will be a win for the bank as well as for struggling homeowners.