Bank of America finally ramps up mortgage modification program

After being named the bank with the worst record in mortgage modification, Bank of America (BAC) has finally expanded its staff to handle the growing number of troubled loans and offer mortgage modifications. At the end of July, the bank had helped only 27,985 people according to a report by the Treasury Department on the progress of the Making Homes Affordable program. That put Bank of America at the bottom of the list.

Since then the bank has beefed up its staff and in August it modified 40,000 more loans, according to the Washington Post. Most of the people who have been offered help under the program have yet to complete the process, the bank told the Post, but its goal is to modify 125,000 loans by November 1. Hopefully for the folks who have been battling with the bank this goal will be exceeded.
Citigroup (C) also announced its staff expansion at the end of August. Finally, the two banks that received the most help from the government are fully on board to help with the mortgage modification process. Unfortunately, they jumped on the bandwagon too late to help people who have already lost their homes to foreclosure in 2009.

The Treasury Department's report in July showed that JP Morgan Chase (JPM) had the best record. It had helped 20 percent of its customers by the end of July. Citigroup was in second place by helping 15 percent of its eligible loans. Wells Fargo (WFC) only had a participation rate of 6 percent, and Bank of America was in the worst position with a participation rate of 4 percent.

If we start seeing a dramatic drop in foreclosure rates we'll know that this program is actually having an impact and helping people stay in their homes. When the Obama administration announced the program with much fanfare in February, it promised to help four million people modify their loans. The banks dragged their feet. Many didn't really start cooperating until after the July report that embarrassed them publicly. I don't think any bank wants to look uncooperative when the next report comes out.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including The 250 Questions You Should Ask to Avoid Foreclosures.
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