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Mortgage and foreclosure costs reach $72 billion

Settlement between banks and state attorneys general may be in sight

The economic drain of faulty mortgages has yet to cease, even as the country’s largest banks come closer to reaching a settlement in the 50-state review of foreclosures. Bloomberg reports that the cost from subpar mortgages and foreclosures has now topped $72 billion.

$6.78 billion of that came from new mortgage-related costs from the five biggest home lenders—Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Ally Financial Inc.—during the second half of 2011 alone. It is expected that a settlement between the banks and state attorneys general will be announced soon, and will be worth as much as $25 billion.

Experts are hoping that the resolution of the probe will bring some relief, and not just to curtail the mounting costs. All the investigation and litigation over old loans has made banks hesitant to issue new ones at a time when the Federal Reserve has counseled that increased lending and the repair of the housing market will help heal the U.S. economy.

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