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Wells Fargo Steps Up Homeowner Assistance

""Wells Fargo"":http://www.wellsfargo.com says in the first half of 2009, through lower rates, refinances, and modifications, it alone has helped nearly one million American homeowners lower their mortgage payments or restructure their mortgage.
The bank’s ""Home Mortgage division"":https://www.wellsfargo.com/mortgage, which is based out of Des Moines, Iowa, has refinanced approximately 750,000 borrowers’ mortgages using the administration’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and other standard refinance plans, and has provided more than 200,000 trial and completed modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and its own proprietary programs.
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee last Thursday, recipient of the 2008 ""Five Star"":http://www.fivestarconference.com Lifetime Achievement award Mary Coffin, EVP of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said the bank’s modifications during the first six months of the year represent an increase of 100 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Coffin told lawmakers, ""Notably, last month, 83 percent of Wells Fargo's modifications resulted in a payment reduction, which increases the probability customers will sustain these payments and, in turn, lowers re-default rates and foreclosures.""
Coffin also told the committee that Wells Fargo has increased its loan servicing staff by 54 percent since the beginning of the year to help deal with the volume of requests pouring in from struggling homeowners and has implemented mandatory overtime. But Coffin conceded that the bank underestimated the amount of inquiries it would receive after the government’s program was announced in February. Inquiries from borrowers who were current on their payments jumped, from 5 to 10 percent of total inquiries to more than 40 percent after the announcement.
However, Coffin noted that not everyone who calls qualifies as ""imminent default,"" the standard set by the government for a loan modification. She explained that of the bank’s seriously delinquent borrowers, 30 percent are not eligible for HAMP because they have an Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA) loan, and another 15 percent do not meet the basic program requirements. Of the remaining 55 percent, Coffin said Wells Fargo is actively working with half. The other half, she said, have not yet chosen to work with the bank on a resolution.
Coffin added that for those borrowers who don't qualify for HAMP, Wells Fargo seeks to find another modification or alternate solution to avoid foreclosure. ""Before any home moves to foreclosure sale, we conduct a final quality review to ensure all options have been exhausted,"" she told lawmakers.
Mike Heid, co-president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said in a ""company statement"":https://www.wellsfargo.com/press/2009/20090716_Loan that his organization was ""pleased by the number of customers Wells Fargo helped in the first six months of this year"" and ""committed to continuing to work with the federal government, consumer counselors, non-profit agencies, and others to keep Americans in their homes, whenever possible.""
The comments and mortgage relief numbers from Wells Fargo follow ""complaints from legislators"":http://dsnews.comindex.php/home/news_story/3248 that banks aren’t doing enough or acting quick enough to help at-risk homeowners, and a ""call-to-action from the administration"":http://dsnews.comindex.php/home/news_story/3248 stipulating that Making Home Affordable servicers add staff, expand call centers, strengthen employee training, and enhance online offerings.
Wells Fargo says it services one of every six mortgages in the nation.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.

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