These banks must have a lot of money laying around….
A $10 billion settlement to resolve claims of foreclosure abuses by 14 major lenders is expected to be announced as early as Monday, several people with knowledge of the discussions said on Sunday.
The settlement comes after weeks of negotiations between federal regulators and the banks, and covers abuses like flawed paperwork and botched loan modifications, said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been made public.
An estimated $3.75 billion of the $10 billion is to be distributed in cash relief to Americans who went through foreclosure in 2009 and 2010, these people said. An additional $6 billion is to be directed toward homeowners in danger of losing their homes after falling behind on their monthly payments.
All 14 banks , including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, are expected to sign on.
The agreement comes almost a year after a sweeping deal in February between state attorneys general and five large mortgage lenders.
The settlement almost fell apart over the weekend. Some officials at the Federal Reserve threatened to scuttle the deal unless the banks agreed to pay an additional $300 million for their role in the 2008 financial crisis, which upended the housing market and led to millions of foreclosures.
The Fed officials argued for additional aid for homeowners ensnared in a flawed foreclosure process, according to several people briefed on the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity. The $300 million demand was to come on top of the $10 billion payout, but was met with resistance from the banks, especially because it was raised late in the day on Friday, according to these people.
The Federal Reserve officials backed down, allowing the $10 billion pact to move forward ahead of bank earnings releases this month, these people said.
During the last week, officials from the Federal Reserve met with community groups and consumer advocates to gather comments about a settlement. It was those talks that induced the Fed to forgo the request for additional money, according to three people familiar with the matter. The thinking, these people said, was that broad relief was better than a lengthy review process that had not yielded much relief.
It is still unclear how the monetary relief will be distributed among homeowners, but one immediate result of the settlement is the end of a troubled review of millions of loan files.
As part of a consent order in April 2011, the comptroller’s office and the Federal Reserve established the Independent Foreclosure Review, which mandated that banks hire independent consultants to audit loan files and look for illegal fees, bungled loan modifications and instances where borrowers lost their homes even though they were current on their payments. Only 323,000 homeowners submitted claims for their files to be reviewed.
Within the comptroller’s office, senior officials raised concerns that the reviews had grown bloated and inefficient, especially after each loan took more than 20 hours to review, up from original estimates of eight hours a file.
The mounting costs of the reviews, up to $250 an hour, began to worry the banking regulators, according to several of the people with knowledge of the matter. So far, the foreclosure review program has cost the banks an estimated $1.5 billion, according to these people.
Banking regulators grew concerned that the reviews were not producing meaningful instances of banks wrongfully seizing the homes of borrowers who were current on their payments, according to these people.