$25B settlement reached over foreclosure abuses

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WASHINGTON — A landmark $25 billion settlement with the nation’s top mortgage lenders was hailed by government officials Thursday as long-overdue relief for victims of foreclosure abuses. But consumer advocates countered that far too few people will benefit.

The deal will reduce loans for only a fraction of those Americans who owe more than their homes are worth. It will also send checks to others who were improperly foreclosed upon. But the amounts are modest.

It’s unclear how much the deal will help struggling homeowners keep their homes or benefit those who have already lost theirs.

About 11 million households are underwater, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth. The settlement would help 1 million of them.

“The total number of dollars is still small compared to the value of the mortgages that are underwater,” said Richard Green, director of the University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate.