Update on Home Foreclosure Mediation
- A detailed report on foreclosure mediation programs nationwide from the Center for American Progress (CAP) states that the number of jurisdictions with foreclosure mediation programs has increased from 11 to 21 in a year. Pending legislation in additional states will boost the number further. The report recommends that states with opt-in programs should move to use of mandatory mediation and that states with coverage in only certain cities or locations should expand statewide. Further, the report urges that states without programs in place move swiftly with legislation or judicial rules to implement mediation programs and that mediation services also be added at the federal level. American Progress.org (June 29, 2010); Full Report
- The Obama Administration released its first monthly housing scorecard to track housing market indicators and federal efforts to prevent home foreclosures. Housing Wire.com (June 21, 2010); Housing Scorecard (June 21, 2010)
- The Circuit Court of Cook County launched a court-based foreclosure mediation program to address the rising foreclosure rate. Moreover, the county – Illinois’ largest – approved a $3.5 million budget last Fall to provide free foreclosure mediation services to homeowners. A coalition of community organizations is now launching a major outreach effort, going door-to-door to homes facing foreclosure to explain the details and encourage participation in the county’s optional mediation program. In addition, pro bono attorneys are currently being trained to guide homeowners through the mediation process. Pioneer Local.com (April 29, 2010); Progress Illinois.com (June 29, 2010)
- Palm Beach County, Florida homeowners can mediate foreclosures that are filed on or after July 12, although they can choose to opt out of mediation. The mediation program is being run by the Palm Beach County Bar Association. Mediation is free for homeowners, but lenders must pay $750, which also covers a financial counselor and administrative costs. One mortgage company is enthusiastic and reports success in about 75% of their foreclosure mediations. Others are more skeptical about whether mediation will just further delay the foreclosure process and, on the other side, whether lenders have any motivation to settle. Palm beach post.com (July 7, 2010)
- California legislation to establish a mediation program to help homeowners and lenders agree on sustainable loan modifications passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The legislation intends to establish a mediation program similar to those in Nevada and Connecticut. California Newswire (June 1, 2010)
- Legislation has been introduced in Connecticut to extend the state’s successful foreclosure mediation program by an extra year, to 2012. However, the source of funding for the additional year will not be determined until later. The bill would also bar banks and servicers from charging late fees or other charges if they do not come to mediation sessions or are unprepared. Hartford Courant (May 1, 2010)
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.
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