February 17, 2011 (Shirley Allen)
JP Morgan Chase has announced that it plans on opening 25 more Home Ownership Centers throughout the United States in 2011. Chase has already opened 51 centers since 2009 to assist customers who have slipped into the foreclosure process or are seriously behind on their mortgage payments.

The centers are not bank branches and are usually open six days a week. They are staffed with counselors who are there to advise borrowers struggling with a job loss, health bills or other issues that have put their mortgages in trouble.

“The best way to help borrowers find ways to stay in their homes is to sit down face-to-face and discuss their individual circumstances,” David Lowman, CEO of Chase Home Lending, said in a statement.

Other banks do help borrowers faced with losing their homes. Chase, however, appears to be the first big lender to set up dedicated full-time centers with counselors.

At the centers, borrowers can drop off applications and supporting documents to get their loan terms changed, from interest rate to principal reduction, or to get advice on preventing foreclosure. Each homeowner is assigned one Chase person to be the contact on the case.

Chase spokeswoman MaryJane Rogers wasn’t able to say how many customers have averted foreclosure with help from Chase centers.

She said representatives have counseled 120,000 borrowers since 2009. The bank has offered more than 1 million temporary modifications and completed 300,000 permanent modifications since then.

Tags: JP Morgan Chase, home ownership centers, mortgage payments, foreclosure process, loan modifications