Chase Opens MN Office to Help Prevent Foreclosures

The new office will open sometime this year within the Twin Cities metro area, and it aims to counsel residents about how to keep their homes.

Chase on Wednesday announced plans to open a Minnesota office that will advise residents about how to avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes.

The new office is one of 25 Chase Homeownership Centers that the bank will open in 19 states across the country. The new offices join 51 U.S. locations already in operation.

Kristin Lemkau, a spokeswoman for Chase's parent company JPMorgan Chase, told Twin Cities Business on Thursday that the company hasn't yet determined precisely where the Minnesota office will be located but indicated that it will be in a centrally located spot within the Twin Cities metro area. The office will open sometime this year.

Most Chase Homeownership Centers are located in existing retail branch locations, Lemkau said. Because Minnesota doesn't have any, its office will be independent. “We take a look at the demographics of where we have borrowers, where the concentrations are in a market,” she said about the process of determining where to house Homeownership Centers.

Including the new offices, Chase has Homeownership Centers in 27 states and Washington, D.C. The 25 offices currently being opened will reach 12 states that didn't previously have an office.

All of the centers are open six days a week. In addition to opening the new offices, Chase has vowed to host at least 32 multi-day events across the country in order to reach customers in more than 25 cities that don't have Homeownership Centers.

Since 2009, Chase has met with 120,000 customers at its Homeownership Centers across the country. The company has also held 1,082 borrower outreach events that together reached 61,000 borrowers.

“We want to reach as many homeowners as possible and try to help,” David Lowman, CEO of Chase Home Lending, said in a statement. “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.”

Counselors at the centers will help customers understand available options that could help them stay in their homes-and work through those options, which may include mortgage modification and document collections.

“Many homeowners in communities across the country continue to struggle with their monthly mortgage payments,” Steve Stein, Chase senior vice president who manages the firm's homeownership preservation efforts, said in a statement. “Foreclosure should always be a last resort. It is in everyone's interests, wherever possible, to find ways to keep people in their homes.”

Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of New York City-based JPMorgan Chase & Company-a global financial services firm whose assets exceed $2.1 trillion.

JPMorgan Chase and other large mortgage lenders across the country have come under scrutiny in recent months amid allegations of “robo-signing”-or letting employees sign off on as many as 10,000 foreclosure affidavits within a month.

In October, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson asked 15 of the country's largest mortgage lenders to voluntarily stop home foreclosures in Minnesota until they demonstrate that they are adhering to the proper legal process. Later that same month, Wells Fargo admitted that it made mistakes in thousands of foreclosure affidavits and said that it would refile documents in order to fix the mistakes.