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BofA Accused of Discriminating Against REOs

Fair housing complaint filed with HUD

Sept. 25, 2012

By Mortgage Daily staff

A complaint filed against Bank of America Corp. accuses the banking behemoth of discrimination on its real-estate-owned assets.

The fair housing complaint, filed Tuesday with the Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also names Bank of America, N.A., and BAC Home Loan Servicing LP.

The respondents allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act by taking better care of REOs in predominantly white neighborhoods than REOs in non-white neighborhoods.

Behind the complaint was the National Fair Housing Alliance and five of its operating members. The complainants have been investigating BofA's maintenance and marketing of REOs across the country since 2009. Around 375 properties in eight metropolitan areas were evaluated.

Three dozen objective factors were evaluated in the categories of curb appeal, structure, signage and occupancy, paint and siding, gutters, water damage and utilities. The observations allowed the complainants to document the type, number and severity of the maintenance and marketing problems or deficiencies at each property.

Comparisons were made between zip codes in white and non-white neighborhoods.

The complainants say that they observed that properties in non-white neighborhoods were marketed in materially worse condition than properties in white neighborhoods. Because of the disparate maintenance and marketing, there were far fewer REOs in white neighborhoods, according to the complaint.

"Bank of America has a systemic and particularized practice of engaging in differential treatment in maintaining and/or marketing its REO properties on the basis of race, color and/or national origin," the complaint states. "This practice has occurred at least since 2011 and continues to persist on a national basis and/or in any of eight metropolitan areas NFHA and its operating members investigated in 2011 and 2012 and described in this complaint."

A BofA spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for a statement.

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