by Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment / San Diego Free Press
When it comes to foreclosing on Californians, it looks like Wells Fargo may take the prize. According to a report released today, Wells Fargo is responsible for more homes in the foreclosure pipeline in California than any other single lender.
Wells Fargo is servicing the most loans, but they are providing less principal reduction to struggling borrowers than either Bank of America and Chase – who themselves should be doing more! The recent report from the Monitor of the multi-state Attorneys General settlement with the five big mortgage servicers showed that Wells Fargo trails behind Bank of America and Chase when it comes to the amount of principal reduction given as part of first lien loan modifications.
This is the very same Wells Fargo that just had its most profitable year ever in 2012, with earnings of $19 billion.
The report, California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline Is Damaging Local Communities, by ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), the Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League, shows the harm coming to homeowners, communities and the economy unless Wells Fargo reverses its course and averts some or all of the impending foreclosures.
Click here to download the report.
The report uses data from Foreclosure Radar to look at loans currently in the foreclosure pipeline in California – meaning loans that have a Notice of Default or Notice of Trustee Sale. Of the 65,466 loans in the foreclosure pipeline, close to 20% of them are serviced by Wells Fargo.
If Wells Fargo’s 11,616 distressed loans go through foreclosure, California will take a next $3.3 billion hit: Each home will lose approximately 22 percent of its value, for a total loss of approximately $1.07 billion; homes in the surrounding neighborhood will lose value as well, for an additional loss of about $2.2 billion; and government tax revenues will be cut by $20 million, as a result of the depreciation.
And not surprisingly, African American and Latino communities will be particularly hard-hit. The report includes maps for seven major cities showing minority density and dots for each of Wells Fargo’s distressed loans. In city after city, they are heavily clustered in neighborhoods with high African American and Latino populations.
“My community has been absolutely devastated by the foreclosure crisis, and I put a lot of the blame at the doorstep of Wells Fargo,” says ACCE Home Defenders League member Vivian Richardson. “Wells Fargo’s heartless and unfair foreclosure practices are sending far more homes into foreclosure than is necessary.”
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos released a statement of support: “Our communities and our entire State are still reeling from the housing crisis, and will be for years to come. As this report shows, the numbers of homes still facing foreclosure is enormous. Principal reduction is clearly a critical strategy for saving homes and stabilizing the economy. Wells Fargo and the other major banks should be doing more of it.”
The report recommends:
Wells Fargo should commit to a broad principal reduction program.
This means that every homeowner facing hardship should be offered a loan modification, when Wells has the legal authority to do so. The modification should be based on an affordable debt-to-income ratio, achieved through a waterfall that prioritizes principal reduction and interest rate reductions. Junior liens must also be modified.
Wells Fargo should report data on its principal reduction, short sales, and foreclosures by race, income, and zip code.
Wells Fargo must be more transparent about its mortgage practices. The bank has an egregious history of harming California’s African American and Latino communities through predatory and discriminatory lending. To show the public that it has reformed, Wells Fargo must make this data available. The people of California need to know that Well Fargo is no longer discriminating against people of color and is fairly and equitably providing relief to homeowners and to the hardest hit communities.
Wells Fargo should immediately stop all foreclosures until the first two demands are met.
In the event that it takes a few months to set up a fully functioning principal reduction program, Wells Fargo needs to immediately stop all foreclosures. Wells Fargo has done enough harm. It’s time to stop. California deserves a break.
ACCE is waging a campaign to push Wells Fargo to be a leader in California, their home state, in saving homes – beginning with their performance to comply with the Attorneys General Settlement and with the Homeowner Bill of Rights, but not ending there.