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Iowa AG forges ahead in servicer settlement

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Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said he would forge ahead with the mortgage servicer settlement talks despite losing two key states in recent weeks, California and New York. On Friday, California AG Kamala Harris sent a letter to Miller saying her office would "devote its resources to establishing an independent path forward to resolution." She was the only other AG office in attendance at a meeting between the multistate coalition and mortgage servicers a week ago to settle an investigation into how widespread faulty servicing practices had gone. In her letter, Harris said the latest proposal between the two sides wasn't good enough. "It became clear to me that California was being asked for a broader release of claims than we can accept and to excuse conduct that has not been adequately investigated," Harris wrote. New York AG Eric Schneiderman announced in June he would "pursue a different path" after being dismissed from the negotiation committee within the multistate coalition. More than 771,000 California mortgages were at 30 days delinquent through foreclosure, according to data from Lender Processing Services (LPS). New York currently totals nearly reaches 395,000 troubled loans. And in California, servicers showed signs of actually ramping up the foreclosure process in recent months as notices of default spiked. According to Harris, more than 2.2 million California homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgage, as well. "The multistate effort is pressing forward and we fully expect to reach a settlement with the banks," Miller said in a statement Friday. "This multistate is about foreclosures and mortgage servicing abuse, and we are 100% focused on providing relief to homeowners while it can still make a difference and save homes from foreclosure." With many Republican AGs lined up against the investigation and an increasing number of Democrats splintering away, the banks may be forced to take on the states on more of an individual basis. On Monday, a spokesman for Miller's office signaled that, practically speaking, California and New York would very likely not sign onto an agreement. Progress to find common ground with the banks is still struggling along nearly one year since it began. "Any state, regardless of what it has indicated in the past, will have the option of signing onto a settlement in principle — that is, if we reach one," the spokesman said. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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