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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — In these troubled times of increasing defaults, rising foreclosures and dropping home values, what, exactly is debt worth these days? It’s worth about three cents on the dollar. Even if that’s about what the debt of others is worth, it may actually sell for less, but that’s the price Sharon Hall, CFO of Ascend United here said was the going rate for buyers looking to scoop up loans and other debt others want to get off their books.

There may be scavengers out there promoting foreclosure bus ride tours that get a lot of media attention, but the business of relieving lenders of bad debts has more than just one purpose. Besides providing relief for credit unions with funds that can be plowed into new services, IT improvements, new branches or build capital, selling debt means not having to spend more money on collection efforts. Usually, when a lender seeks the sale of a bad-loan portfolio, its own efforts have met with less than stellar results.

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