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Consensus eludes national mortgage servicing settlement

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Some state attorneys general clashed in recent days over the proposed settlement with mortgage servicers over problems found in their foreclosure processes, illustrating how far away a final agreement is likely to be. Banks will not be held to these stricter mortgage servicing standards in states where the AG does not sign on to the deal. In October, the 50 state AGs opened an investigation into the largest mortgage servicers after some companies froze processes to check for misplaced documentation and affidavits signed en masse without a proper review, known as robo-signing. A bi-partisan executive committee drafted the proposed settlement, according to the office of lead investigator Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. But it appears there is some negotiation left to complete between the AGs themselves. "We haven't even begun face-to-face discussions with the banks yet," a spokesman in Miller's office told HousingWire Monday. "We'll begin the negotiations and hammer out an agreement." The spokesman at Miller's office said the proposal was transmitted to all 50 state AGs before it was sent to the banks. But a spokesman in Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office said he hasn't seen it. "We'd love to comment on it (the settlement), but we wouldn't know what we were talking about," the spokesman said. Other AGs have openly criticized the settlement. Oklahoma AG Scott Pruit opposes the settlement, saying that a principal write down requirement would force servicers to violate their contractual obligations to mortgage investors. Virginia AG Kenneth Cuccinelli told Bloomberg at least a dozen states, including his own, don't back the proposal. Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner detailing their concerns for the overall mortgage market because of the settlement. Moody's Investors Service (MCO) put out a report showing how the proposal would cost smaller servicing shops both time and money, and consumer groups said the proposal doesn't go far enough. But with even some AGs still not on board themselves, both sides of the table still have a lot of work to do before reaching a final settlement. "We are open to input from all 50 state AGs," Miller's spokesman said. "Some have and some haven't." Write to Jon Prior or Christine Ricciardi. Follow them on Twitter: @JonAPrior, @HWnewbieCR
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