Foreclosure crisis settlement elusive

Feb. 26, 2011 at 2:18 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. and state officials are still debating possible settlements in the national foreclosure scandal, a spokesman for Iowa's attorney general said.

"We've finalized nothing, and we're still working on some very complicated issues," said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for state Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading a challenge by all 50 states that alleges banks used fraudulent processing to foreclose on homes, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Among the accusations, banks are accused of short-changing the system by having documents signed without a thorough review -- a system called "robo-signing."

Several major banks were forced to suspend pursing foreclosures last year to review their processes. The reviews further stalled an already slow housing market.

Federal and state authorities are now looking at a settlement of between $5 billion and $20 billion to make amends. But authorities disagree on how to use whatever settlement they win on behalf of homeowners.

One proposal would have banks reduce principal payments on troubled home loans by $20 billion, but some fear that would cause more homeowners to stop making payments to qualify for a payment from the settlement. Other options include a cash payment to those who have lost their homes,

In either case, many feel $20 billion is not enough to cover the damage from the foreclosure crisis.

"This settlement is too small and will likely have one of two results: Either borrowers will receive insignificant principal reductions or reductions will only be available to a small subset of troubled borrowers," said U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

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