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Mandatory Mediation Programs Help Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

by Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam Zadeh
October 2008

From the First Mediation Blog of Jeff Krivis and Mariam Zadeh.

Home for Sale - Foreclosure

RealtyTrac, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, reported in its Q2 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, that foreclosures were filed on 739,714 U.S. properties during the second quarter of 2008, a nearly 14% increase from the previous quarter and a 121% increase from the second quarter of 2007. The report also shows that one in every 171 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing during the second quarter of 2008.

“Although much of the fallout from foreclosures is being driven by rampant activity in a few states, such as Nevada, California, Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Michigan, most areas of the country are seeing at least some increase in foreclosure activity,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Forty-eight of 50 states and 95 out of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas experienced year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in the second quarter.”

In light of all the recent dismal activity in the housing market, states across the nation are responding with mandatory mediation programs to provide some form of relief to struggling homeowners.

In Connecticut, the General Assembly launched a special foreclosure mediation program through the state Judicial Branch, the first of its kind in the United States, to help homeowners who have not been able to make their monthly mortgage payments reports Daniel Tepfer of the Connecticut Post

Similarly, Ohio’s Supreme Court has developed and instituted an 11-Step Foreclosure Mediation Program Model that Ohio Courts are using in forming their mandatory foreclosure mediation programs throughout the state. In Seminole County, Florida, 18th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Clayton D. Simmons signed an order earlier this summer ordering mediation in foreclosures of owner-occupied residences in an effort to force lenders to respond to homeowners’ who want to work out a deal so they can keep their home. “It is forcing, hopefully, some communication that wasn’t going on in the past. That was our whole purpose,” Simmons said as reported in the Orlando Sentinel by Amy Edwards . “If they don’t communicate, there’s no way of working it out.”

We have not seen anything comparable instituted yet in California to specifically tackle the foreclosure crisis. We invite you to weigh in with your thoughts and comments on the issue and how mandatory mediation programs may positively or negatively effect foreclosure actions across the country.

Biography



Jeffrey Krivis is the author of two books: Improvisational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict about Love, Money, Anger—and the Strategies that Resolved Them, and How To Make Money As A Mediator And Provide Value To Everyone (Wiley/Jossey Bass publisher). He has been a successful mediator and a pioneer in the field for twenty-five years. Krivis serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. He is also an Emeritus member of the board of visitors at Pepperdine. 


Mariam Zadeh was an active trial lawyer in New York City until September 11, 2001, at which time her life was dramatically changed. She moved to Los Angeles, obtained her L.L.M. in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University, and became a partner with Jeffrey Krivis at First Mediation Corporation. Since joining Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam has successfully mediated employment, class actions, commercial, premises & professional liability, mass torts, medical malpractice, ERISA and other tort actions as well as matters pending on appeal. In 2007, Mariam was featured as a “Rising Star” in the Southern California Super Lawyers magazine and was profiled by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. She is a published author and frequently lectures and teaches at ADR workshops and classes throughout California.

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