Sources on both sides of the 50-state attorney’s general investigation into so-called “robo-signing” foreclosure practices are nearing a settlement. As Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller square off today before the Senate Banking Committee, the framework of a deal is taking shape.
While sources say there is no universal solution to shoddy foreclosure practices at some of the nation’s largest mortgage banks/servicers, the three largest, BofA, JPM, and Wells Fargo, may be agreeing to the same solution.
First, banks would pay into a fund used to compensate borrowers who have claims after their home has been sold in foreclosure. The borrowers would have to prove they were wronged in the process, and the attorney’s general would allocate the funds. In other words, the AGs would be the administrators. The amount of said fund is still undetermined, and likely still in negotiation. Each bank could settle on its own amount, or there could be a joint agreement.
Secondly, the banks would do away with the dual track of modifications and foreclosures. That means that only after all options of modification are exhausted can a bank begin foreclosure proceedings. Many borrowers currently complain that they are in the midst of the modification process when they get a notice of foreclosure sale. The drawback to eliminating the dual track is even greater extended timelines to foreclosure for borrowers. As it is, borrowers on average can be in their homes for a year and a half without making mortgage payments before eviction.
Finally, there would be some kind of agreement to third party mediation for review of all the cases in the first part of the agreement where borrowers are seeking compensation from the AG fund.
There has also been talk of principal write down as part of settlements, perhaps with some banks and not others. “It’s been on the table,” says one source.