Robo-singing Settlement May Boost Short Sales




The government's $25 billion settlement with the nation's five biggest mortgage servicers over so-called "robo-signing" practices could boost short sales, as loan servicers will receive credit when they approve sales that include forgiveness of a portion of underwater homeowners' debt. Broadly, the settlement calls for mortgage servicers to pay $5 billion in fines and commit to a minimum of $17 billion in homeowner relief, including principal reductions. Another $3 billion is earmarked for helping underwater borrowers refinance.

Although the settlement is only expected to help a fraction of homeowners who owe more their properties are worth -- perhaps one in 20, according to one estimate -- it will also help bring certainty back to housing markets by removing some of the obstacles that have been keeping homes stuck in the foreclosure pipeline.

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