Mortgage Lenders in Talks Over Fund for Borrowers in Foreclosure Mess

Borrowers who can prove that they lost their homes in improper foreclosures may get some help from a fund that state attorneys general and the country's biggest lenders are developing.

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By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Brady Dennis

State attorneys general and the country's biggest lenders are negotiating to create a nationwide fund to compensate borrowers who can prove they lost their home in an improper foreclosure, state and industry officials said.

The fund would present a solution for both sides, helping banks avoid lengthy and costly court challenges from homeowners and aiding state investigators in their efforts to seek relief for homeowners who were wronged, the officials said.

Discussions are continuing over the size of the fund, who would administer it and what kind of proof homeowners would have to present to get access to the money. But there is a consensus between the lenders and state officials that some sort of financial remedy is necessary to avoid the turmoil that could result from homeowner challenges.

Any settlement between the banks and attorneys general almost certainly would force lenders to put more resources into modifying the loans of homeowners who missed their payments, rather than rushing toward foreclosures, state officials said. The banks could also be barred from foreclosing on homeowners while simultaneously negotiating mortgage modifications.

The fund, the first of its kind in the mortgage industry, would mirror victim-compensation efforts set up in recent years in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the shootings at Virginia Tech and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those were all administered by a specially appointed czar, Kenneth Feinberg, who had the tough task of figuring out what each victim should receive.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading a joint, 50-state investigation, declined to comment Tuesday on the specifics of the group's negotiations with the banks but said that hammering out details could delay a final agreement for a few months.

Read the rest of this article at the Washington Post.

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