WSJ: Investigating the Nationwide Foreclosure Mess

The Wall Street Journal looks into the nationwide investigation into the foreclosure mess that erupted in September over whether servicers violated state laws against deceptive practices by submitting affidavits and foreclosure documents without confirming the paperwork’s accuracy.

While federal officials also are examining the use of “robo-signers” and other mortgage-servicing procedures, the legal quagmire that is slowing foreclosure sales and snarling courtrooms likely won’t end until the 50-state investigation is resolved.

According to the WSJ, the investigation could lead to civil charges and inescapable pressure on financial institutions to rewrite a mountain of mortgages. Already, there are signs that state officials are working together closely to gain more leverage over companies such as Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Yet there also was a squabble over what to call the investigation, with some state officials preferring “inquiry” and others the word “effort.”

“I’m pleased when people are floating options and trying to look at alternatives,” Mr. Miller says with a smile and a shrug. “As long as they aren’t saying: This is the way it’s got to be.” In an interview last week, he pounded on a wood conference table in a show of mock aggressiveness.

Mr. Miller says the attorneys general will push to clean up the mess quickly, hoping it will boost confidence in the housing market. If the investigation drags on for a year, that would be too long, he says.

One Probe, 50 States, High Stakes


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