The five largest loan servicers, including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., may be the first to settle with the 50 state attorneys general probing foreclosure practices, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said.
No settlements have been reached yet, Miller said Monday in a phone interview.
The other three servicers are Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Ally Financial Inc., said Miller, the leader of the 50-state investigation. The five have 59% of the U.S. market, Miller said.
"What we're looking at is five separate agreements with the five largest servicers," Miller said. "We're still a ways away" from reaching agreements, he said. "We're working very hard to figure out what should be in the settlement."
All 50 U.S. states are investigating whether banks and loan servicers used false documents and signatures to justify hundreds of thousands of foreclosures.
The probe, which was announced Oct. 13, came after JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial's GMAC mortgage unit said they would stop repossessions in 23 states where courts supervise home seizures, and Bank of America, the largest U.S. lender, froze foreclosures nationwide.
Representatives of the five companies declined to comment.
The probe has widened to include other mortgage practices, with attorneys general suggesting a potential resolution should include improving the loan modification process, barring foreclosures when people are modifying loans and creating a general fund to compensate homeowners who may have been victims of wrongful foreclosures.
Miller said that the group of attorney generals has had at least one face-to-face meeting with representatives from all five of the largest banks, and that there were "follow-up phone calls."
The group will reach individual settlements rather than a global agreement with the servicers, Miller said.
"It won't be the same document for everybody," he said. "There are differences in the companies and in performances."
The group isn't pursuing a criminal investigation, Miller said. "Our focus is to reform the servicing process, and that's inherently civil, not criminal," he said.
In an interview last week, Miller said the group might consider matters including whether servicers are charging borrowers appropriate fees.
"We hear stories far too often of it taking months before servicers get back to people, or they lose documents and that they don't modify a loan when it makes sense," Miller said in the interview.