WASHINGTON — Bank of America’s record $16.65 billion settlement for its role in selling shoddy mortgage bonds — $7 billion of it geared for consumer relief — offers a glint of hope for desperate homeowners.
The settlement requires the second-largest US bank to reduce some homeowners’ loan balances, provide new loans to low-income buyers, and address areas of neighborhood blight.
But consumer advocates say relatively few people will be helped relative to the devastation triggered by the mortgage bonds, which fueled the worst financial crisis since the 1930s and threw millions of homes into foreclosure.
Only a fraction of homeowners would be eligible for refinancing under the settlement. And the process by which people would qualify and receive aid could drag on for years, with payouts set to be completed as late as 2018.
Those who have already lost homes to a foreclosure or a short sale — when a lender accepts less money from a sale than what the borrower owes — wouldn’t likely benefit at all.
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