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Real estate’s down-and-outers

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Editor's note: The loss of homes, jobs and wealth, coupled with an environment of tighter lending, has barred some consumers from owning a home again for at least several years. This article, Part 1 of a "Rebuilding Homeownership" series, explores the scope of bankruptcies and foreclosures and the impact to would-be homeowners. Part 2 explores the assistance that real estate agents can offer in helping consumers get back on firm financial footing, and Part 3 explores whether lenders will make allowances for borrowers with checkered credit histories. Long after the global financial crisis subsides and the U.S. economy is again creating jobs, many former homeowners may find it hard to convince lenders to give them the time of day. Bankruptcies and foreclosures are leaving lasting scars on millions of borrowers' credit reports, and many will be unable to obtain a mortgage for years to come. Even those who hang onto their homes are seeing their credit dinged after m...