This is another in a series of updates on the development and expansion of foreclosure mediation in the U.S. by Mediate.com News Editor, Keith Seat.
The first statewide mediation portal in the country has been launched in Maryland to increase the number of homeowners who opt in to foreclosure mediation by easing the exchange of state-required documents and communication about options among all mediation participants. The Maryland Mediation Portal is a collaboration between the state, GMAC Mortgage and Hope LoanPort and may be a model for other states and servicers to follow. National Mortgage Professional (June 21, 2012)
Oregon is preparing to train hundreds of mediators to handle the flow of mortgage foreclosure mediations that may arise under the new mediation program established by the state. Mediators will be paid if selected for cases, with experienced mediators more likely to be selected. About 1,500 homeowners per month are expected to qualify for foreclosure mediation, but it is uncertain how many will request mediation. The nonprofit Collins Center for Public Policy signed a five-year contract with Oregon to recruit, train and manage mediators for the new program. In May the state approved $7.6 million to launch the foreclosure mediation program, which included funds from the multi-state settlement of foreclosure abuses. Once under way, the mediation program is to be supported by fees paid by lenders and homeowners using the program. Statesman Journal.com (June 26, 2012); Oregon Business Report (May 24, 2012)
A district judge ruled that records from Nevada’s foreclosure mediation program are not open to public inspection because the state’s public records law does not apply to the Nevada Supreme Court, which runs the mediation program. In addition, the court noted that the records could not be disclosed due to mediation confidentiality. Loan Safe.org (May 11, 2012)
The Massachusetts Senate passed legislation providing greater protections for homeowners, including an amendment that gives borrowers the right to mediation with lenders prior to foreclosure to attempt to renegotiate loan terms. The mediation program would be run by the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Norwood Patch (June 9, 2012)
The foreclosure mediation rules in Stark County, Ohio have been tweaked to cut costs by bringing the mediation program into the court and by using one mediator in place of two. Other changes are intended to avoid delays by initially screening cases and then requiring homeowners to attend a class to explain the process, alternatives and documents required during mediation. Canton Rep.com (May 26, 2012)
The number of foreclosures in Connecticut increased 38 percent from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, with the south central region of the state increasing 75 percent. Only 47 percent of those eligible for foreclosure mediation in Connecticut participated, but of those who did, 63 percent were able to stay in their homes. East Haven Patch (June 28, 2012); Connecticut Foreclosure Mediation Program
Florida’s attorney general invited ideas about how the state should spend $300 million from the nationwide $25 billion settlement which is to be devoted to keeping struggling homeowners out of foreclosure. The money is being held in escrow pending a plan. TC Palm (May 7, 2012)
Hawaii is providing funding for organizations involved in foreclosure mediation and other frontline efforts to combat foreclosures from a $7.9 million settlement between the state and various financial institutions. CBS News (June 11, 2012)
Delaware’s attorney general announced that his office would allocate $900,000 to support the Delaware Mortgage Mediation Program and hire a full-time mediator from a $10 million settlement for mortgage servicing fraud. The state’s mandatory mediation program took effect on January 19, 2012, but is off to a slow start as banks filed over 300 foreclosure actions the week before the program took effect and only 14 foreclosures eligible for mediation since then. WGMD.com (May 10, 2012)
Keith L. Seat is a full-time mediator and arbitrator who can effectively assist parties in resolving a wide range of telecommunications, antitrust and other commercial disputes. With over twenty years of legal experience as a mediator, arbitrator, litigator, advocate before executive branch agencies, and key staffer in the legislative and judicial branches, Mr. Seat brings a wealth of experience to his work as a mediator and arbitrator to help parties reach successful resolutions of complex disputes.
Mr. Seat began his legal career in a federal clerkship with U.S. District Judge William H. Becker, and then litigated antitrust and commercial disputes for many years at a major Washington law firm, Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White, where he first worked on telecom and technology issues. In 1993, Mr. Seat was named General Counsel of the Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he served for four years, playing a significant role in the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Returning to the private sector in 1997, Mr. Seat rounded out his experience with a senior in-house counsel position at MCI, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications firms. At MCI, he gained a first-hand appreciation for the important perspective brought to issues and disputes by in-house decision-makers. Mr. Seat also deepened his knowledge of telecom issues and gained experience addressing competition-related issues in the corporate setting, as well as helping resolve disputes among large organizations.