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More Resources for Mayors to Help Cities Monitor Vacant Homes

December 3, 2012


The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo met in October in Charlotte (NC) for the fourth time as part of a national alliance focused on foreclosure prevention, property disposition, homeownership and community development.

Mayors and staff representing eight cities, primarily in the Carolinas, and Conference of Mayors staff joined Wells Fargo industry experts to discuss efforts and strategies to address housing challenges in local municipalities.

“We appreciate the partnership with Wells Fargo, it’s commitment to help stabilize housing, and look forward to the continued partnership together,” said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, representing the forum’s host city.

Wells Fargo executives reviewed property preservation, real estate owned, community development, and retail practices with the Conference of Mayors officials and toured a Wells Fargo Home Preservation Workshop in Charlotte.

“Over the last several years, housing has been really challenging to cities across the nation,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren, Chair of the Conference of Mayors Community Development and Housing Committee. “But recent news suggests that the housing market is improving. Indeed, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told mayors at our Committee meeting in June that real progress has been made in the housing market during a challenging financial crisis.”

“Mayors continue to be concerned about mortgage foreclosures and helping families avoid going through such a life changing experience,” added Warren. “In response, many cities have adopted mortgage foreclosure prevention programs for their citizens.”

An important resource that was uncovered at the Charlotte forum is a database known as MERS® that can be used to research the mortgage servicer for at-risk properties. MERS provides access to data on the MERS® System free of charge to homeowners, county officials, and regulatory officials (subject to privacy restrictions). Officials can access the data on local mortgage loans registered on the MERS® System at www.mersinc.org or by calling toll-free: 1-888-679-6377.

As a leading mortgage servicer, Wells Fargo is also taking a proactive approach to maintain abandoned properties. As a resource to the Conference of Mayors, Wells Fargo recently sent information to thousands of mayors, code enforcement officials and others representing municipalities across the country to inform them how to contact Wells Fargo should there be concerns about a Wells Fargo mortgage serviced property.

“We care about maintaining properties and neighborhoods,” said Mike Rizer, executive vice president and head of Wells Fargo community relations.

Officials may contact the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Property Preservation Department by calling toll free at 1-877-617-5274 or by e-mail at codeviolations@wellsfargo.com.

“We service and regularly inspect and maintain our vacant properties,” said Sherilee Massier, vice president with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s Property Preservation Department. “Our Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Property Preservation Department can be contacted seven days a week.”

At a home preservation workshop that was held at the same time as the Charlotte forum with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Wells Fargo met with 225 homeowners struggling with mortgage payments, among the over 39,000 customers Wells Fargo has met with 78 such workshops since 2009 through October in cities deeply affected by the housing crisis.

“We are encouraged by the partnership with Wells Fargo and the best practices they have brought forward,” said Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin, Co-Chair of the Conference of Mayors Vacant and Abandon Property Task Force.

Wells Fargo customers facing mortgage payment challenges can visit the website www.wellsfargo.com/homeassist/ or call 800-678-7986 to work with Wells Fargo to explore options that may be available to help them avoid foreclosure.