Almost 400,000 Countrywide mortgage holders will get help - USATODAY.com
Nearly 400,000 homeowners will be able to get more affordable loans after Bank of America (BAC) agreed Monday to modify mortgages that originated with its Countrywide Financial unit. The move could be worth more than $8.6 billion and mark the largest predatory lending settlement in history.
Monday's deal settles claims brought by attorneys general in 11 states that accused Countrywide — acquired in July by BofA — of misrepresenting loan terms, loan payment increases and borrowers' ability to afford loans.
Bank of America says it will restructure loans for Countrywide customers holding subprime mortgages and option adjustable-rate loans that permit borrowers to pay only a small portion of interest and principal owed each month. Some might wind up in new fixed-rate loans; others might not.
But the Bank of America deal represents only a fraction of the future defaults and foreclosures facing homeowners. There were more than 2.2 million foreclosure filings in the USA in 2007.
EVEN MORE DETAILS: Read Bank of American's press release
"There could be a couple million more (foreclosures to come), so it begins to put a price tag on the problem and how expensive it is," says economist Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors.
Pat Lashinsky, CEO of ZipRealty, says as many as 6 million homes will have gone through a short-sale or foreclosure before this housing slump is finished.