Wells Fargo workshop for struggling homeowners

March 7, 2012 12:15:38 PM PST
Struggling Bay Area homeowners are invited to a two-day workshop for some much-needed advice on keeping their homes. Wells Fargo bank is hosting the event at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

It's a fairly large-scale event with 400 Wells Fargo customers already registered. When they arrive, they can look into getting help with their loan modification or refinancing their mortgage. 25 percent of those who attend will actually leave with those changes in hand.

"The interest rate was going to increase in, I believe, three years," Don Clowes of Martinez told ABC7. These are hard times for homeowners like Martinez who is behind on his mortgage payments. "I took on another position in the organization where I wasn't making as much money as I was before and then secondarily, I went back to college and got my MBA."

Wells Fargo, one of the big five banks and often criticized for being part of the problem, has been reaching out to customers who need help. "About 81 percent of Wells Fargo is owned by others. The vast majority would be Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, FHA, and we're the servicers. So, we're who the customer will work through, through this process," Diana Stauffer explained.

She says foreclosing on homes doesn't benefit the bank any more than it does the homeowner and these home preservation workshops help to avoid just that. "Sitting down in front of the person, they're actually going to be working with that person after they leave here today as well, and have that face-to-face connection," Stauffer said. "We're seeing some great trends from these events. About two out of every three customers attending is getting some kind of workout option."

Clowes is one of the lucky ones. It looks like his loan modification is going to work out. "He's been able to work through the process, explain it to me. Him and his manager had some really good ideas and they shared them openly with me, which is a lot different than what I had gone through over the telephone with some of the representatives," he said.

On the flip side, one dissatisfied customer who said he was current on his payments told ABC7 he was at Wednesday's event trying to get his interest rate lowered but was told he did not qualify. The event will run until 7 p.m. Wednesday night and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. Customers who have not registered are still welcome to walk in.

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