Bank of America ramps up foreclosure restarts
Bank of America (BAC) cleared attorneys to proceed with 16,000 foreclosure cases in December as it completes a revamp of its procedures. On Oct. 1, BofA suspended foreclosures in 23 states where employees signed affidavits without verifying documentation, and expanded the suspension to all 50 states a week later. Wells Fargo (WFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Ally Financial (GJM) and others also suspended foreclosures, citing similar problems. On Oct. 25, BofA began resubmitting affidavits in 102,000 foreclosure actions. BofA said the restarted foreclosures will begin with vacant and non-owner-occupied properties. "We are taking a deliberate and phased approach to restarting foreclosure sales," Barbara Desoer, president of BofA Home Loans, said. "We continue to be committed to ensuring that no property is taken to foreclosure sale until our Bank of America customer is given an opportunity to be evaluated for a modification or, if ineligible for a modification, a short sale or deed in lieu solution." "Foreclosure is the option of last resort," she added. BofA said it made changes to key areas of its procedure, including enhancements to pre-foreclosure referral and sale checkpoints and the introduction of new affidavit forms where required. The bank also made changes to how associates are trained, a new code of conduct in management review and training for external foreclosure counsel. BofA also said it improved its process to ensure affidavits submitted in judicial foreclosure states comply with law. Chief Executive Brian Moynihan told investors during the third quarter conference call that he expected fewer than 30,000 foreclosure sales to be delayed, and borrowers who received a foreclosure in the third quarter were delinquent on their mortgage for an average 560 days. Write to Jon Prior.