Nevada, California Borrowers Get Special Assist From Bank of America

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One of country's biggest banks is reaching out to the states with the most troubled mortgage markets, including Nevada, Florida and California.

Nevada borrowers now have a Bank of America Outreach Center where they can meet one-on-one with a homeownership retention specialist. The first center was set up in Henderson, Nev. By the end of June the bank expects to set up additional centers in Las Vegas and Reno.

This center comes just three weeks after the bank's CEO, Brian Moynihan, met with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who asked Bank of America for the additional help for the state, which has the highest foreclosure rate in the country. Bank of America services one in three mortgage loans in Nevada.

Similar outreach centers are operated by Bank of America in Brea, Calif., near Los Angeles, and Phoenix, said Jumana Bauwens, a bank spokeswoman. The bank also runs a mobile unit in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is looking to set up centers there, as well. Since January, the Florida mobile unit has set up 2,500 appointments.
A key option is the bank's principal reduction plan. Ultimately, Bauwens said, the bank expects to offer 1,000 Nevada borrowers a total of $130 million in principal reductions. The first 500 Nevada customers will be mailed offers under the principal reduction program next week.

In announcing the opening of the center, Rebecca Mairone, a national servicing executive for Bank of America Home Loans, said, "We recognize that homeowners in Nevada have been faced with some of the most extreme economic conditions that require further special efforts on our part."

Once residents meet with a homeownership-retention specialist, their file and all follow-up will be with that specialist, which should help to minimize the communication problems that have been broadly reported in the media. Bauwens said the staff has been specially trained to help borrowers through the maze of paperwork and other parts of the process. An appointment is required to receive these services.

When it first announced its principal reduction program in March, BofA estimated that about 45,000 people nationwide would qualify for about $3 billion available in principal reduction. At the time, Jack Schakett, a credit loss mitigation strategies executive for the bank, said there were 1.5 million borrowers who were 60 days or more late on their mortgages.

The bank also reported that, since January 2008, it has helped more than 760,000 customers with loan modifications. This includes 500,000 through the bank's own programs, 240,000 active trial modifications through the federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and 21,000 permanent HAMP modifications.

Now, the states with the highest numbers of mortgage defaults will get even more of the attention they require.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including "The 250 Questions You Should Ask to Avoid Foreclosure" and "The Compete Idiot's Guide to Personal Bankruptcy."

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