California and New York are close to signing on to the Obama administration's multibillion dollar mortgage robo-signing settlement, significantly expanding the deal, the New York Times reports. If California signs on, the settlement total will jump from $19 billion to $25 billion. In exchange, the states want measures to help individual homeowners, and the ability to investigate the banks' other past mortgage misdeeds. California also wants to ensure that big pension funds can still sue the banks for false claims about mortgage-backed securities.
As currently constituted, the deal would include $17 billion for people who are behind on payments and underwater on their mortgages—meaning they owe more than their homes are worth—and would hand $2,000 to each of about 750,000 families who lost their homes to foreclosure. It also would set up a powerful outside monitor to watch banks and guard against future abuses. “We are closer now than we’ve been before, but we’re not there yet," says California's attorney general. (Read more mortgage robo-signing scandal stories.)