(Source: Rob Varnon Connecticut Post, Bridgeport) – The housing and mortgage crisis continues to weigh on the state’s economy and Bank of America’s balance sheet as the financial institution has 6,100 Connecticut mortgage customers, many of whom are behind on their payments.
The bank is holding an outreach event Jan. 19-21 at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn, 1070 Main St. A similar event is planned for Hartford on the same weekend.
T.J. Crawford, a spokesman for the bank, said customers were sent fliers representing a mix of people already in modification programs and those who have not taken part in one and are 60 days or more late. He said none of those sent fliers are current on original loans. The event is open to any Bank of America customer who is finding it difficult to pay the mortgage, he added.
Bank of America, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the nation, has held similar events across the country and Crawford said about 60 percent of participants who bring required documentation to the event get a decision on a modification within a few days.
“Bottom line, this event can mean some form of closure for many of our distressed borrowers,” Crawford said in an email.
While 6,100 homeowners sounds like a lot, Woodbridge-based investment adviser Paul Schatz, president of Heritage Capital, said it sounds like a reasonable number for a large institution like Bank of America.
“If you extrapolate out around the country, 6,100 is within the band of normalcy,” Schatz said. “There are millions of houses under water.”
But he also said the behemoth Bank of America has been slow to deal with this problem, which continues to plague it.
“I think Bank of America is way behind the curve when it comes to addressing foreclosures and delinquent mortgages,” he said, adding this event “is a step toward unclogging the bowels at the bank.”
Shares of Bank of America gained 9 cents to close at $6.27 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange Monday.
Getting things moving in the housing market and the state’s economy will require more than just these efforts by Bank of America, said New Haven-based Economist Donald Klepper-Smith, of DataCore Partners.
“At this point, you really can’t get meaningful progress in the local housing market without progress in the labor market,” Klepper-Smith said.
High unemployment has pushed more families into delinquincy and added to the growing list of foreclosures banks and local communities are dealing with, he said.
What’s needed are for banks and borrowers to work out deals that will help eliminate the growing housing inventory, helping free up financial institutions to provide more lending as the bad loans are taken off the books.
For more information on Bank of America’s event, visit www.bankofamerica.com/homeownerevent, or call 1-855-201-7426. Contact Rob Varnon at email@example.com; or follow him at twitter.com/RDVarnon.
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Source: Rob Varnon Connecticut Post, Bridgeport