Bank of America kicked off its mortgage outreach program in 2009 to help struggling borrowers avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. Past events drew fairly high attendance numbers in Charleston.

Foreclosures fall

As Bank of America customers sought help to keep their homes Thursday, the real estate information firm CoreLogic reported that the Charleston area's foreclosure rate fell 19% in March from last year.

The rate for Charleston, North Charleston and Summerville was 3.28% of outstanding mortgages. That's down from 4.05% for March 2012.

The national foreclosure rate was 2.84% this past March. South Carolina's was 2.98%.

Also, mortgages classified as 90 days or more delinquent in March dropped nearly a percentage point from a year ago, to 5.93% of all home loans.

Not this year.

The Charlotte-based financial giant reported low turnout at the Charleston Area Convention Center over three days this week, mirroring trends the bank is seeing in other markets.

“This can be attributed to a number of factors, which may include an improving economy and Bank of America's ongoing efforts to reach out to and assist our customers with their mortgages,” said spokeswoman Laura W. Hunter.

The smaller crowds coincide with fresh reports showing a steady drop in foreclosures, nationally and in the Charleston area.

Bank of America said it sent out 2,500 invitations to mortgage customers within 75 miles of North Charleston and received about 60 responses, or just 2.4 percent. Last year, about 400 customers responded to the offer for help, said Tamika Eubanks, senior vice president for national mortgage outreach events.

Eubanks said the low attendance this year was a “good sign,” perhaps showing “that the customers are getting the assistance they needed” at the seven previous foreclosure-prevention workshops the bank has organized in South Carolina since 2009.

She said the borrowers who showed up for help this week were interested in modifying their home loans to lower the monthly payments, and other options for avoiding foreclosure. Some asked about short sales, in which the bank would agree to a mortgage pay-off amount that is less than what it is owed.

Borrowers approached by The Post & Courier at the event declined to be interviewed Wednesday and Thursday.

Since 2009, Bank of America has held more than 1,200 mortgage outreach events in 45 states and Washington, D.C. Hunter said the program has assisted more than 169,000 homeowners.

The bank's North Charleston outreach effort wrapped up Thursday.