Bank of America Corp. said it has restarted foreclosure sales, giving attorneys the go-ahead this month in 16,000 cases.
The resumption will begin with vacant and non-owner-occupied properties. The bank has previously said about one-third of properties are vacant when a foreclosure sale occurs.
The Charlotte-based bank in October announced a voluntary freeze on foreclosure sales as it reviewed its foreclosure processes. Bank of America and other lenders have been under scrutiny for mishandling affidavits and other documents submitted in the foreclosure process.
Bank of America previously announced that it had begun resubmitting affidavits in 102,000 cases in 23 states, including South Carolina, where judges sign off on foreclosures. Based on judges' rulings, the sales are now proceeding.
The bank said it has made improvements to its process, including using new affidavit forms where needed and increasing employee training.
"The review shows the basis for our foreclosure decisions has been accurate," Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Home Loans, said in a statement. "We have identified areas of our process that can be improved, and while we make these improvements, it's important that we move ahead with efforts to reduce the number of abandoned properties across the country. These properties can drag down home values in neighborhoods and slow the eventual recovery of the housing market."
In North Carolina and other 26 "non-judicial" states, Bank of America's review of foreclosure procedures is "near completion," bank spokesman Dan Frahm. "We are working with our third-party auditors to provide final validation of our process and the improvements we have made," he said.
From Dec. 20 to Jan. 2, in deference to the holidays, the bank said it will suspend foreclosure sales and evictions in cases in which it owns the loan or has the investor's authorization.
The nation's biggest bank also said it's moving 2,500 employees in other parts of the mortgage unit to "homeownership retention initiatives," a shift signaled earlier this week by chief executive Brian Moynihan. Bank of America will now have 29,000 employees working with distressed homeowners — more than three times the amount two years ago.
About 86 percent of the bank's home loan customers are current on their loans, the bank said.
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