John and Queenesthra Moore of Henderson attended Wells Fargo's homeowner workshop Wednesday with low expectations of getting a loan modification approved on the spot. It hadn't happened for them at previous workshops.
But this one was different. It was better organized and didn't make them feel like cattle being herded, Queenesthra Moore said. They met bank officials in private and left with dignity, she said.
The Moores were ecstatic to learn their mortgage payment would be reduced by $800 a month, with delinquent payments put on the back end of the loan and interest rate knocked down from 7 percent to 4.6 percent.
Queenesthra Moore started crying and hugged the Wells Fargo mortgage specialist assigned to their case.
"I haven't been able to get a job, and I've had medical problems, so it means a lot for me to see him get some relief," she said.
The Moores are among 733,180 active trial and completed loan modifications made by Wells Fargo since January 2009, said Joel Sarmiento, senior vice president for the bank. A trial modification ensures that a customer can make the payment over a three-month period before the loan modification is made permanent, Sarmiento said.
Of those, 84 percent were done through the bank's proprietary modification programs, and 16 percent were through the federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program.
Wells Fargo has agreed to more than $4.1 billion in principal mortgage reduction. That's possible if the loan was originated by Wells Fargo, and it's the only way to gain affordability, Sarmiento said.
About 25 percent to 30 percent of Wells Fargo customers left Wednesday's workshop at the LVH with some type of immediate solution, and that percentage will increase in the coming weeks as people follow up with documentation that may have been missing, he said.
"That's the biggest thing, having the customers come prepared with full documentation," the bank executive from Tucson, Ariz., said. "That's when the frustration comes in. 'OK, I met with Wells and didn't get help.' But if you come fully prepared, we do have people here who can do things for you."
Wells Fargo invited 3,200 customers facing financial hardship to the workshop, one of 33 that will be held around the country this year. The bank has conducted 58 workshops since 2009, including three in Las Vegas, Sarmiento said.
Counting workshops such as the one presented by Hope Now two weeks ago at Cashman Center, Wells Fargo has participated in more than 600 foreclosure prevention workshops, he said.
Roughly two-thirds of Wells Fargo customers who come to the homeowner workshops will avoid foreclosure, he said. Wells Fargo originates one in every four home loans in the country, and services one in six.
As of fourth-quarter 2011, less than 8 percent of first mortgage and home equity loans serviced by Wells Fargo were past due or in foreclosure, compared with an industry average of 10.9 percent.
"The biggest struggle for Wells Fargo is to get in touch with the customer and have them work with us," Sarmiento said. "We're contacting them 200 times by phone and 50 times by mail over 16 (months) to 24 months while they're delinquent."
John Moore, employed with Clark County Water Reclamation District, said Wells Fargo worked with him as he struggled to make his mortgage payments. They sent him an invitation to the workshop with a checklist of documents he needed to bring.
"It was great and it didn't take long. It was a learning experience," he said.
Abelardo Garcia will have to wait. He's already gone through a three-month trial loan modification through HAMP, and is hoping for a second trial period. He said his documents are under review in North Carolina, and once it gets approved, they'll give him a call.
Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas, stopped by the workshop to learn about the loan modification process and pick up resources for her Spring Valley constituents.
"I was impressed the minute I walked in. It was a welcoming atmosphere," she said.
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at email@example.com or 702-383-0491.