BofA rebrands Countrywide, symbol of mortgage meltdown

As Bank of America Corp. officially puts its brand on former Countrywide Financial Corp. offices today, the Charlotte bank is also unveiling new initiatives aimed at improving mortgage lending for consumers.

The changeover follows the Charlotte bank's July 1 acquisition of Countrywide, which had become a symbol of the nation's mortgage meltdown as it neared collapse early last year. The lender came with a damaged name, troubled loans and a phalanx of lawsuits, but Bank of America prized Countrywide for its dominant market share and well-honed technology and sales force.

Bank of America is retiring the Countrywide brand on 500 retail offices around the country and replacing it with the new Bank of America Home Loans name. Signs in California and North Carolina are changing first, with the rest switching by August.

Looking to also stow Countrywide's tarnished reputation, Bank of America is unveiling a new one-page loan summary called a "clarity commitment" that is designed to help customers better understand their loans. In addition, the bank is introducing a new Web site for consumers (bankofamerica .com/homeloans) and launching a "flat-fee" mortgage that replaces its "no-fee" mortgage product.

"The new brand is Bank of America," Barbara Desoer, head of home loans and insurance, said in an interview. "The promise is to always be a responsible lender and to help create successful homeowners."


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