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Wells Fargo hosts workshops failing ailing mortgage holders

29th July 2013   ·   0 Comments

By April Siese
Contributing Writer

Homeowners looking to prevent foreclosure recently attended a free workshop at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel.

Wells Fargo, the country’s largest mortgage originator, hosted its 90th Home Preservation Workshop of the year last month. Almost 2,200 Wells Fargo customers from up to one hundred miles away were invited to the June 14 workshop. A majority of customers came from within a 25-mile radius. The workshop lasted all day, occurring just down the street from Wells Fargo Advisors’ New Orleans office also located on Poydras St. in the CBD.

In all, 90 appointments were made and 93 loans were reviewed. A final decision has been provided for 54 percent of those loans, according to data provided by the bank. A majority of those decisions were issued within seven days’ time, according to Regional Dir­ector for the Southern Area Hugh Rowden. Of the 64 percent of loans that were approved with a workout option, 50 percent of those loans were modifications, leaving another 14 percent in the ambiguous category of being either temporarily modified for those who are faced with unemployment or within another category altogether.

Wells Fargo lumped its data for canceled loans with that of loans denied, accounting for 36 percent of those loans in which a final decision has been reached. Rowden was present for June’s Home Preservation

Workshop and has previously attended four other Wells Fargo events in New Orleans since 2010, including the US Department of the Treasury’s Making Home Affordable event.

Though Rowden stated that Wells Fargo has been an established presence in New Orleans for as long as he’s been working with the company, he was unsure of when Wells Fargo had opened an Advisors office within the fifteen years of his employment with them. Currently, there are Wells Fargo Advisors offices in the CBD, Mandeville, Metairie, Hammond, and Covington. There are fourteen employees at the Metairie office, according to Rowden.

In addition to Wells Fargo’s extensive nationwide Home Preservation Workshops, the bank has been touting its My Home Roadmap program as an additional service to help stabilize communities and provide customers with up to 2 hours or $250 of pre-purchasing counseling with options and support in regards to successfully applying for a home loan. Many applicants are either turned down because of their credit or uninterested in applying at the time.

The first-of-its-kind My Home Roadmap program was launched in December of 2011 independently of an earlier lawsuit filed against Wells Fargo in regards to home-loan bias. Wells Fargo was accused of unfairly discriminating against minority borrowers, forcing Hispanic and African-American customers into risky, expensive subprime loans. The bank lost the lawsuit and was ultimately forced to pay $125 million to 34,000 borrowers affected as well as establish a $50 million assistance fund.

There appears to be some internal confusion regarding GNO branch personnel and what New Orleans nonprofits Wells Fargo works with. Repeated attempts to obtain this information were resolved only after contacting multiple representatives, whose offices dealt primarily with the bank’s Western Division. The Wells Fargo Advisors has 32 employees at its office located on the 24th floor of 1250 Poydras St, according to Wells Fargo spokes­person Sarah Tonigan.

In regards to Wells Fargo’s involvement with the New Orleans nonprofit community, the bank has a working relationship with 12 GNO-area nonprofits, according to Rowden. “Most do or have referred loss mitigation work to us, or have done pre-purchase homebuyer education. Keep in mind that we will take loss mitigation files from any HUD-certified nonprofit,” Rowden said in an email.

This article originally published in the July 29, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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