Job losses and lower salaries are putting homeowners at risk of foreclosure, prompting banks to urge people to seek help and advice. *File photo
Job losses and lower salaries are putting homeowners at risk of foreclosure, prompting banks to urge people to seek help and advice. *File photo

FRIDAY, JULY 1: Banks want to reassure homeowners they will not be chomping ‘at the bit’ to repossess your property if you cannot make your payments. 

HSBC Bank Bermuda, Bank of Butterfield and Capital G say they would rather work with homeowners than foreclose on their properties, but people need to let the lenders know they need help.

Shawnette Griffin, vice president of consumer credit at the Bank of Butterfield, said: “In this economic client, if you are feeling challenged, contact us as soon as you experience any difficulties.

“We want to work with our clients. We want to try ways to assist you.

“Please contact the bank, the bank will definitely work with you.”

Lower wages

Ms Griffin said there have been people who have told them they have switched jobs and who are now earning less.

Some have asked how the bank can help them keep their home.

She said even though it may be a humbling situation for a homeowner, “we will definitely find a way to work with them”.

She said even though “there may be somebody out there who may not want the bank to know their position”, it was better for them to be upfront early rather than wait until the situation spiralled out of control.

Sean Lee, executive vice president at the Bank of Butterfield, said with people losing jobs and perhaps taking other employment at a significantly lower salary, Butterfield would rather “take someone like that and work with them for a couple of years”.

“We need to be honest with people,” he said.

“It’s much easier for us to work with a customer and have them stay in it and maintain it, and continue to make the payments, rather then decide to leave the property.”

Renee Bullock-Cann, senior personal finance services manager at HSBC Bank Bermuda, said the bank was also willing to work with people facing financial difficulties.

“There is the ability for people to come in and talk, and say, ‘I am experiencing a challenge’.

“We certainly have been — and still are — there to help people manage through that challenge and come out successfully,” she said. “We’re here for you. Come in and talk to us.

“I can certainly appreciate when people are facing challenges, especially personal challenges.

“It can be difficult, but if you can reach out to experts and people who are willing to offer advice on how to manage your way out of it, that’s a healthier approach for everyone.”

She said in order for HSBC Bank Bermuda to work with its customers it has to know if they are having problems.

“We’ll certainly work with you,” she said.

“The first step is reaching out and talking to us.”

The bank will then assess the situation and formulate a plan to help the customer.

“We want a win-win situation for everyone — the bank and the client,” she said.

A spokesman from Capital G told the Bermuda Sun: “Capital G has customers who are experiencing
challenges in a very difficult economy.

“We are working with these customers to customize payment plans as far as is practically possible and have had good success with this.”

The bank has always stipulated a 25 per cent down payment policy for mortgages and loans.

“Due to diligent collection techniques, working with customers as noted, and our conservative lending policy, Capital G has not experienced a material deterioration in loan portfolio or a material increase in action on mortgages,” added the spokesman.