A new government program to boost mortgage refinancing is overwhelming some banks such as Bank of America. That bank has been telling some customers to wait 90 days before applying for a refinance.
Banks have to staff up to handle refinancing demand. Banks are loathe to hire more staff so they keep mortgage interest rates a little higher than normal to discourage demand.
(Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., struggling to handle mortgage refinancing after a U.S. program boosted demand, is telling some customers to wait 90 days before starting an application, said two people with knowledge of the policy.
The firm began a reservation system last week that asks those who call during high-volume times if they wish to be contacted again in 60 to 90 days, said two people who requested anonymity because the measure hasn’t been announced. Wells Fargo & Co. and New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. mortgage lenders, said they aren’t stalling customers.
The delays may push borrowers to other lenders or discourage them from taking advantage of record low interest rates. The government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program, which helps homeowners lower payments, has increased refinance applications and strained capacity at Bank of America, which exited some mortgage lines last year. The U.S. program, now dubbed HARP 2, was broadened in 2011 so more people qualify.