BofA CEO: 'Fairness Is A Major Concern'
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told attorneys general gathered in Charlotte Tuesday his company is hard at work addressing concerns about faulty mortgage and foreclosure practices. Attorneys General from all 50 states are pressing Bank of America and other large banks to make significant changes. One of the things attorneys general want is for banks to start reducing the amount of principal homeowners owe on their mortgages as a way to prevent foreclosure. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says his company is already doing that in targeted situations - with military families, for example. But Moynihan told attorneys general gathered in Charlotte that doing more of that will not solve the foreclosure problem. "Fairness is a major concern," said Moynihan. "It's hard to see how we could justify reducing principal for some people who are delinquent, but not for people who are current." Moynihan does support other demands from attorneys general, such as a requirement that banks establish a single point of contact for homeowners trying to modify their mortgages. But Moynihan also said American ideas about homeownership will have to change. People should no longer expect to buy a home without putting any money down and expect it to be a lucrative financial investment, said Moynihan. "They should think of it as a great place to live and love it and do it, but whether they should think of it as a financial asset I think is an open question going forward," said Moynihan. He also told attorneys general that requiring a 20 percent down payment will force people to wait longer to buy a home, but is "not necessarily a bad thing." Bank of America customer Jenny Barker's home in High Point is on the verge of foreclosure. She and her husband lost their jobs to layoffs. After unsuccessful attempts to modify her mortgage, Barker appealed to her representatives in Congress and now says she's happy with the service she's getting from Bank of America. But her loan still hasn't been modified, so Barker joined a small group of protesters outside the meeting where Moynihan spoke. "All I ask is that the lenders work with us," said Barker. "We are people, we have a story. We are not in foreclosure or unemployed because we want to be. We ask that you work with us so that we can get our lives back together." Moynihan was invited by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to speak at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General. Cooper is a lead negotiator in ongoing meetings to settle foreclosure concerns with the nation's largest banks. Some government estimates say the banks could be asked to pay more than $20 billion, with a portion of that spent on lowering the principal owed by homeowners in foreclosure.