Local banks not worried about foreclosure ‘robo-signings’

Recent news about banks proceeding with foreclosures without meticulously examining loan documents shouldn’t concern all Grand Junction mortgage-holders, according to local bankers.

Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Ally Bank suspended foreclosure proceedings this month to sort through the mess caused by robo-signing, the practice or a bank of third party signing off on foreclosures without checking to make sure a homeowner truly missed loan payments often enough to go into foreclosure.

Leaders of other banks with a local presence said last week they’ve been more diligent than those three banks in handling foreclosures.

Wells Fargo Community Banking President Steve Irion said he’s “confident” in the bank’s procedures. Irion said the bank’s mortgage side is careful with its foreclosures, and also wants to keep people from getting to the point where they lose their homes.

“It’s in our best interest to keep people in their homes,” Irion said. “We’re very active in being proactive on the refinance side.”

American National Bank CFO and Board Vice Chairman Susan Sturm, based in Denver, said in an e-mail the robo-signing issue “doesn’t affect American National Bank at all.”

“We have always followed all proper protocols and procedures concerning our mortgages,” Sturm wrote.

Like many small banks, Grand Valley Bank’s mortgage side sells mortgages into a secondary market that allows a number of large financial institutions to buy in. That includes the robo-signing institutions, which makes their troubles an “indirect concern” for Grand Valley, said the bank’s board vice chairman, John Frederick.

“I think what happened there is they got in a bit of a rush,” Frederick said of the banks involved in robo-signing. “If we have an issue, we have someone look at the documents.”

First National Bank of the Rockies CFO and Executive Vice President Kevin Cochran said he doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of what happened with robo-signing, but he has little sympathy for banks that blame their actions on having too many foreclosures to sort through.

“Volume is not an excuse,” Cochran said.

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