Will the federal government’s $25 billion bank settlement help Nevada homeowners?

Naturally, federal government officials are getting out the confetti over the recent $25 billion settlement with five of the nation’s top mortgage lenders over abusive practices that led to millions of foreclosures nationwide.

But in Nevada, where the foreclosure crisis is at its worst, the “benefits” of the money are far less encouraging. Distressingly, only a small fraction of those underwater in their homes will be eligible for the refinancing provided under the settlement. Worse, those who have had their homes foreclosed on would receive only $2,000 apiece—for many homeowners in the Valley, not even enough to pay a month’s mortgage installment.

Nasser Daneshvary, director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies at UNLV, says that of the nearly 400,000 Nevadans underwater, only about 22,000 will be eligible for refinancing, adding that the nation’s housing crisis will only improve once the government loans provided by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae—approximately 60 to 70 percent of Nevada’s loans—are negotiated down. “Currently they’re doing nothing,” he says.

Still, Daneshvary says the amount of money earmarked for Nevada—nearly $2.3 billion—is an encouraging sign. “We have 1 percent of the U.S. population, but we’re getting 6 percent of this money,” he says. And while 22,000 homeowners is a small percentage of the total, it’s a start. “A refinancing which saves you money every month gives you hope so that you maintain your payments, hoping the market eventually comes back.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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