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Bank of America to resume foreclosures

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Bank of America said Friday it was ending its hiatus on foreclosure sales, and promised to get its act together after a series of sloppy home seizures prompted the bank to back off and re-examine its process.

"We have identified areas of our process that can be improved and while we make these improvements, it's important that we move ahead with efforts to reduce the number of abandoned properties across the country," said Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) Home Loans, in a statement. "The properties can drag home values in neighborhoods and slow the eventual recovery of the housing market."

The bank said it plans to proceed with 16,000 foreclosures this month, though it will observe a "holiday suspension" of sales and evictions from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2. Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) have announced a similar holiday freeze.

The Bank of America action ends the "voluntary freeze" that the bank initiated in October, after a series of messy real estate mistakes. They included the foreclosure of a house that was owned outright by someone who had paid cash, without any mortgage at all, as reported by the Sun Sentinel of Florida.

In another case, the bank shut off the utilities of a Pittsburgh homeowner and seized her pet parrot, despite the fact that she was current on her payments.

"We continue to be committed to ensuring that no property is taken to foreclosure sale until our Bank of America customer is given an opportunity to be evaluated for a modification or, if ineligible for a modification, a short sale or deed in lieu solution," said Desoer. "Foreclosure is the option of last resort."

Last month, Desoer said the bank "deeply regrets" the way it handled some of its foreclosures.

The bank reiterated that "more than 86% of the bank's home loans are current on their mortgage," which means that less than 14% of home owners are not current.

The bank also reiterated that "at the point of foreclosure sale, one-third (of the) properties it services are vacant." To top of page

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