Bank of America

New Bank of America loan modification program reduces principal

new logoBank of America announced today it will begin offering loan modifications under an Arizona foreclosure-prevention program funded by which is funded by $268 million from the Treasury Department's Hardest Hit Housing Program.

The program is run through the Arizona Housing Department. The state provides money to pay off up to $50,000 of a mortgage if the bank agrees to forgive an equal amount,

This week, BofA will begin mailing notices to Arizona homeowners who are eligible for the loan modifications, bank spokesman Rick Simon said. The bank is encouraging customers to wait for those notifications in their mailbox instead of contacting the bank to find out if they qualify.

Do You Qualify for Bank of America’s loan modification with principal reduction plan?

Based on reporting in other public news sources (links below), these are the qualifications for consideration for Bank of America’s new loan modification with principal reduction program.

  • Bank of America will send letter in the mail to borrowers who are at least 60 days' delinquent.
  • Borrowers must be able to show their income was cut through unemployment, underemployment, illness, death or divorce, but they must have some income.
  • Borrowers must owe at least 20% more than their home is worth.
  • Borrowers who took out a second mortgage that wasn't used to buy the home are not eligible.

Although most of the money in the Hardest Hit program is intended to encourage loan modifications, a second portion will cover up to $50,000 in mortgage payments for unemployed or underemployed residents.

this data was originally reported by the Arizona Republic

(interesting note: my business partner Chris Butterworth predicted 2 years ago that loan principal reductions were needed in the hardest hit foreclosure cities)

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Why does the bank want the first 5 digits of my Social Security number?!?

Image ID 960307, PARTIAL by Stock Exchnage user svilen001  First, an important disclaimer: This article does not create an Realtor-client relationship with any reader. In other words, although I am a Realtor, I am not your Realtor.  Please contact a Realtor, attorney, or accountant/CPA in your community for personalized advice. 

Why does Bank of America require the first 5 digits of your Social Security number if you’re trying to buy a short sale home from them?


  • This situation applies if you – as buyer – are trying to buy a home that is a short sale and the seller’s lender is Bank of America.
  • Bank of America uses a software program called Equator to track their short sales. It (usually) makes the process faster because the software automates response deadlines from the bank.
  • The Equator software system requires that the seller’s Realtor agent enter the buyers’ social security data at the time an offer is made  and submitted to the Equator software system.

Here’s a screen shot of the Equator system at the point of entering a buyer’s offer on the short sale home being managed by Bank of America.

equator screenshot


So what is Bank of America doing with the first 5 digits of your Social Security number?!

I don’t think a bank can do anything useful with the first 5 digits of the SSN.  At least not right now.  (but see where a bunch of Realtors speculate on whether the bank can use the 5 digits of the Social Security number to pull a buyers’ credit – consensus: unknown).

  • I believe BofA is stockpiling info for later use and/or sale.
  • Bank of America is so huge it owns or services 1 in 5 mortgages in the United States
  • I believe that eventually BofA will have enough partial data on enough people to combine the first 5 with the last 4 digits for a significant number of people.
  • bingo! they’ve got all 9 numbers and you’re wide open to identity theft

This is my opinion only. It does not represent the opinion of my broker (my boss), my business partner or the local or national Association of Realtors.

What should I do if Bank of America asks for the first 5 digits of my Social Security number?

First, please re-read the disclaimer at the beginning of this article: I’m a Realtor but not your Realtor. Contact someone local.

Personally, for my buyer clients, I do not provide the first 5 digits of their Social Security numbers. I give the bank zeros:  000-00.

Using zeros instead of the real Social Security numbers has worked for several of my clients who successfully bought short sale properties with Bank of America involvement. Your mileage may vary, but give it some thought.

Need personalized real estate advice in the metro Phoenix Arizona area? Call me. Or email me. Or text me. Or Tweet me.  Just contact me. We’re The Phoenix Agents @ Thompson’s Realty – Real people… making real estate …real simple.

Just want more info without talking to an agent right now? No problem.

Image credit: Stock Exchange user svilen001 – note this is a partial portion of svilen001’s original image.

Bank of America posts earnings loss

Bank of America just posted a big loss.

Bank of America, among many other things the #2 residential mortgage lender and #1 servicer, reported a second straight quarterly loss, driven by write-downs in the value of its mortgage business.

The bank lost $1.57 billion, or 16 cents a share, compared with a loss of $5.2 billion, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier. Last year's results included a one-time TARP charge of $4 billion. Without the mortgage business write-down, the bank earned $756 million, or 4 cents per share.**

See also my broker Jay Thompson, a.k.a. The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, wrote a blog post the other day, grouching about Chase’s earnings for the 4th Quarter. Chase earned a whopping $52 million per day in profit in the 4th quarter of 2010.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about Bank of America’s new billboard advertising campaign. Have you seen these? The basic message is “we’re everywhere” with billboards like these:

Where you live. Where you work. Where you play.

So many ATMs it’s like they’re following me. (with a pretty, smiling woman in the picture)

More ATMs than anyone else in the history of the world.

OK, I made that last one up. But the point is, they’ve spent a busload of money to remind us how big they are.

2008: BofA spent $319 million in U.S. advertising (source,

June 2009: B of A spent $125 million on U.S. advertising to date. (source,

January 2010: B of A plans to spend between $15 million and $20 million on a new marketing campaign aimed at the IRA rollover market. (source,

What happened to “too big to fail”? Did we all forget that saying already? It’s only been about a year and a half since we realized that some U.S. banks were so ginormous that if they failed the world would explode.

And now, Bank of America’s entire billboard ad campaign is centered on the idea of “we’re so huge, you can’t escape us.” Doesn’t that make them too big to fail, by definition?


**As an aside, I love how we all let corporations get away with spinning their earnings reports. BofA gets to say “without that loss of 3/4 of a billion dollars, we had positive earnings.”   I’d like to be able to say to my creditors, “well, without that pesky mortgage of mine that’s underwater by $100,000, I’m fine. Really. Give me some more credit, I think I need to take a vacation this month.”

When pigs fly.