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State AGs propose settlement with mortgage servicers

The American Banker released a proposed settlement online Monday it said is authored by state attorneys general outlining a code of conduct for mortgage servicing. All 50 state attorneys general met in Washington Monday at a National Association of Attorneys General conference, where Iowa’s Tom Miller hosted an update panel on the multistate foreclosure probe. Miller’s communications representative Geoff Greenwood said the settlement, also known as “the term paper,” has not been formally released. Greenwood said the leaked settlement is just a draft and not a final agreement. The settlement is basically an outline for home borrower redress from the nation’s mortgage servicers, especially in nonjudicial states — that is where a court is not required to review a foreclosure case. “These provisions also apply to bankruptcy proceedings to the maximum extent possible, including proofs of claim and motions for relief from stay filed by or on behalf of” the mortgage servicer, the settlement reads. In the settlement, there are 16 points mortgage servicers must follow for foreclosure affidavits. These are at the expense of the servicer and require confirmation that all documents are reviewable. Robo-signed documents need to be reviewed, with proof required that proper processes were taken. There are a further 12 points for requiring the accuracy and verification of the borrower’s account information. Dual track foreclosures are prohibited.  A servicer cannot make a referral to foreclose or file a foreclosure “until borrower/applicant has been sent a written denial by registered mail of all loss mitigation programs for which the borrower is potentially eligible,” the settlement says. Other loss mitigation duties on the part of the servicer include extensive exploration into modified payment options for the borrower. Servicers are required under the agreement to “thoroughly evaluate” the borrower and his or her payment options, as well as “have an affirmative duty to promptly offer and provide” appropriate options. If a borrower is enrolled in a trial period plan under the Home Affordable Modification Program and makes all required trial period payments, but gets denied a permanent mod, the servicer must suspend all foreclosure-related activity. Servicing timelines are being condensed. A servicer must make a loan modification decision within 30 days of receiving all applicable documentation. “Servicer’s compliance with this agreement shall be monitored by an independent third party,” the attorneys general said in the statement. This overseer would be selected by the AGs themselves and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the settlement, is a regulation for a single point of contact at the servicing firm — essentially one servicer per case, who keeps the borrower updated on servicer contact information and loss mitigation activities. Along with this servicers will create a single electronic record for each account. The state’s attorneys general also agree, in the document, to review the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems at a later date. Write to Jacob Gaffney or Christine Ricciardi. Follow him on Twitter @JacobGaffney.

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