There is no more Countrywide Financial. That company, a major player in the subprime market for much of the decade's housing boom, will now simply be called Bank of America Home Loans.
Bank of America, which bought the troubled mortgage lender last year, said the change will offer homeowners "greater clarity in the home finance process."
In fact, the bank has renamed its one-page loan summary presented to borrowers the Clarity Commitment. The bank said it will contain interest rate, terms and other details of the loan in plain language.
"We met with thousands of customers and created tools that reflect the transparency they want in the home-buying process," said Barbara Desoer, president, Bank of America Home Loans. "Doing the right thing for our customers is the foundation of our brand promise to always be a responsible lender and help create successful homeowners, and these tools exemplify that promise."
Provided both at application and at closing, the Clarity Commitment document, says Bank of America, is available on most new purchase and refinance transactions, including traditional and government-backed loans.
In addition, the company said it has introduced the Bank of America Home Loan Guide as part of the new Bank of America home loans Web site.
By explaining key data inputs, highlighting "rules of thumb" and tips with each step, and providing context around the results, the guide is supposed to give consumers relevant, personalized information that helps them understand their options and make informed decisions.
"Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions an individual makes, and we take seriously our responsibility to educate customers and arm them with the information they need to make smart decisions," said Desoer. "Especially in this environment, it's important that consumers understand the true, comprehensive costs of homeownership so they can buy a home and enjoy it with confidence."
Bank of America Home Loans said it is also introducing Flat Fee Mortgage Plus through the 6,100 Bank of America banking centers. A new mortgage product, Flat Fee Mortgage Plus has no application fee and one single closing fee that represents the lender and other fees required for third-party services. The product features a close-on-time guarantee and best value guarantee.
The Countrywide brand may not be missed by either Bank of America or consumers. Last year Countrywide settled with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, agreeing to make $345 million in total benefits available to Texas homeowners. The restitution program was set up for homeowners who lost their homes due to foreclosure.