Four years after a wave of rogue mortgage lending sent the U.S. housing market into the worst collapse since the Great Depression, the devastating flood of resulting foreclosures shows no sign of abating. In some ways, the problem is getting worse.
House prices are falling again, forcing more homeowners â€œunderwaterâ€ â€” owing more than their house is worth. Lendersâ€™ shoddy document practices have brought widespread court challenges, slowing the process and leaving millions of homeowners in limbo.
And the foreclosure crisis continues to weigh heavily on the fragile economy.
â€œRight now, itâ€™s the second-biggest drag on the economy after the surge in oil prices,â€ said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi.
Already some 5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure; estimates of future foreclosures range widely. Zandi, who has followed the mortgage mess since the housing market began to crack in 2006, figures foreclosures will strike another three million homes in the next three or four years.