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Wells Fargo: 'Robo-signing' settlement offers Bakersfield homebuyers $15,000 downpayment grants

4-traders.com | June 28, 2015

More than 200 Bakersfield families will get money toward the purchase of a home thanks to a court agreement last year settling accusations Wells Fargo & Co. used "robo-signings" to expedite home foreclosures in the early days of the financial crisis.

Under a program the San Francisco-based lender unveiled Thursday in northwest Bakersfield, homebuyers may qualify for down payment assistance grants of $15,000 each. Applicants are not required to finance their home mortgages through Wells Fargo.

The program results from a $36.5 million legal settlement naming Bakersfield as one of seven regions around the country severely impacted by the company's foreclosure practices. No mention was made of the settlement at Thursday's announcement.

The agreement, approved July 25, 2014, ended a three-year federal lawsuit called City of Westland Police & Fire Ret. Sys. v. Stumpf. Wells Fargo was accused in the case of executing and submitting false legal documents in courts without ensuring their accuracy. The company did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The bank agreed to provide Kern County homebuyers downpayment assistance totaling $4.75 million. Other places said to have been heavily impacted by the lender's practices, and also expected to benefit from the settlement, are the Stockton-Modesto-Fresno area ($7.5 million); Detroit ($5.25 million); Albuquerque, N.M. ($4.75 million); St. Louis ($4.75 million); New Haven, Conn. ($4.75 million); and Virginia Beach, Va. ($4.75 million).

Besides the downpayment grants, Wells agreed to set aside $6 million for credit counseling programs and invest $24.5 million to improve its mortgage servicing procedures, among other measures.

"We are pleased the dispute is resolved and we are bringing more support for the local community," bank spokesman Chris Hammond wrote in an email.

The HomeLIFT program announced Thursday was modeled after the bank's NeighborhoodLIFT program, which has helped homebuyers in three dozen cities across the country by providing $278 million to about 9,500 families since February 2012. One distinction between the two is that while NeighborhoodLIFT was funded by the charitable Wells Fargo Foundation, HomeLIFT is to be paid for by the bank itself.

To qualify for one of the downpayment grants, applicants for a conventional Veterans Affairs loan must earn no more than 120 percent of the area's median household income, or $68,300 for a family of four. Federal Housing Administration loan applicants qualify only if they make no more than 115 percent of the area's median income, meaning a cap of $65,450 for a family of four.

Grant applicants are also expected to live in the home for at least five years and attend an eight-hour counseling session.

Applicants also must attend an informational event July 24-25 at the Greater Bakersfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, 515 Truxtun Ave.

Anyone planning to attend the informational event is asked to bring pay stubs covering a 60-day period, two years' worth of tax returns and bank statements spanning two recent months.

Information on the HomeLIFT program is available online at www.wellsfargo.com/lift, or by calling 866-858-2151.


(c) 2015 The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.)

Visit The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.) at www.bakersfield.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News


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