US foreclosures under scrutiny

Allegations of improper repossession of homes prompt probe of foreclosure practices.

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    The number of homes being repossessed in the United States fell nationwide this past month, and could fall even further.

    But hundreds of thousands of Americans are on the brink of losing their homes, amid accusations that banks have been wrongly handling foreclosures.

    The foreclosure crisis began with the recession of 2008, when the US housing bubble burst. Lenders were faced with millions of defaults at once, and lacked the manpower to process all the paperwork.

    This contributed to what has become known as "robo-signing", bank staff signing off on repossessions, without properly checking all the documents. Now there is an ongoing legal investigation into foreclosure practices in all 50 states.

    And several major financial institutions have temporarily halted thousands of foreclosure proceedings while this is going on.

    Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler travelled to the frontlines of the foreclosure crisis, to the city of Portland, Maine, where the allegations first emerged.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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