Despite reports of lower unemployment rates and a slowly improving economy, many homeowners are still struggling with their mortgage payments, according to local bankers.
Many lenders offer programs to help borrowers get back on track, but Bank of America executives say their customers prefer face-to-face interaction.
Since the height of the recession in 2009, Bank of America has hosted more than 900 homeowner events across the country, sitting down with more than 140,000 customers. Next week, the bank will host an event in Lancaster for the first time and will revisit York in early June.
Bank of America held a similar event in York last November with city Councilwoman Toni Smith, Opportunity Inc. and U.S. Rep. Todd Platts.
"At these events, Bank of America homeowners, who are currently struggling with their mortgage, can sit down face-to-face with a specialist to discuss their current situation, review their financial documentation and discuss any loan assistance options, such as loan modifications, that may be available to them," said Eddie Martin, senior vice president of Bank of America National Mortgage Outreach.
They will also have the opportunity to meet with housing counselors for help with budgeting and financial assistance, he said.
Martin will lead the upcoming events in York and Lancaster, which he doesn't expect will be well attended.
"Despite our best efforts to reach out to our customers for these events, and the success we have at helping customers who attend, about 4 or 5 percent of solicited customers attend," he said.
"We are disappointed in the high number of customers who are in need of assistance that opt not to attend, but we will continue to reach out to our customers and provide them with multiple options." he said.
Loan modification options available to homeowners may include both federal programs and Bank of America plans, which all aim to lower a homeowner's monthly payment to affordable levels.
Susquehanna Bank also offers loan modification programs.
"Once you experience a loss of income or financial hardship, the earlier you contact your lender, the better," said Steve Trapnell, spokesman for Susquehanna Bank. "The longer you wait, the harder it can be to get from underneath that challenge."
Susquehanna Bank mortgage lender Debbie Jones said there are still people in the York area who have been struggling with their housing payments since the recession hit.
"It's very challenging. We try to work with people as much as possible and point them in the right direction," she said.
In many cases, the customers have lost jobs, had large cutbacks in hours and pay, or two-income families have been reduced to one earner. Borrowers are also affected by value depreciation of their homes, she said.
"And federal (modification) programs can't help the masses. There are a lot of people being helped by those programs, but there are still so many who fall between the cracks," she said. Bank of America homeowner event
If you go:
Date: June 5 and 6
Time: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Holiday Inn York, 2000 Loucks Road
Registration: Call 1-855-201-7426 or visit www.bankofamerica.com/homeownerevent. Walk-ins are accepted, although pre-registration is encouraged.
- Reach Candy Woodall at 505-5437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.