Archive for Saturday, January 12, 2008

Customers won’t notice much change

January 12, 2008

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— If you're among the millions of homeowners who are customers of Countrywide Financial Corp., you're probably wondering how the sale of the troubled lender to financial-services giant Bank of America Corp. affects you.

The answer is, not much.

Borrowers shouldn't lose sleep over Bank of America's $4 billion deal to acquire Countrywide, both the companies and outside experts say.

"Loans are closing just as usual," said Cari Kerns, spokeswoman for Calabasas, Calif.-based Countrywide, which originated $408 billion worth of mortgages in 2007 and is currently servicing about 9 million loans worth about $1.5 trillion.

Borrowers with a loan in process or a good faith estimate shouldn't be affected by the deal, Kerns said. "Things won't change for the time being and we are committed to communicating relevant changes to our customers as we move forward."

Customers likely won't see sweeping changes, said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, a publisher of mortgage and consumer loan information.

"Mergers between banking companies happen all the time. Usually they are pretty seamless," he said, adding that this kind of deal doesn't produce the kind of confusion there is when a lender shuts its doors, like American Home Mortgage did last year.

Eventually, Countrywide customers likely will see offers from Bank of America for checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and other services, Gumbinger said.

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