Underwater

Will the foreclosure deal improve the housing market?

The depressed U.S. housing market remains the key headwind to economic recovery, with an estimated 22% of homeowners owing more than their house is worth and with millions facing foreclosure. After 18 months of tortured negotiations, the five biggest mortgage servicers, 49 state attorneys general and the Obama Administration recently reached a settlement that may remove one obstacle to a housing turnaround: banks' fears of government lawsuits for reckless lending practices. The deal, announced Feb. 9, releases the country's largest mortgage lenders from state or federal liability for badly handled foreclosures and for pushing mortgages on borrowers who couldn't afford to...

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