This is another in a series on the development of foreclosure mediation in the United States by Mediate.com News Editor, Keith Seat. Please also be sure to see www.mediate.com/Foreclosure.
A mortgage foreclosure mediation program is being launched March 1 in La Salle and Grundy Counties, Illinois, similar to that in other Illinois counties which have seen 60 percent participation rates and 20 percent of borrowers keeping their homes. Lenders filing foreclosures must pay an extra $150 to finance the mediation program; homeowners pay nothing. News Tribune (February 20, 2014)
A new mortgage foreclosure mediation program has been established in St. Clair County, Illinois, to provide mediation services to homeowners throughout the 20th Judicial Circuit who choose to participate. The mediation program is receiving funding from the state attorney general’s office. St. Louis Post-Dispatch (January 14, 2014)
Legislation (HF 1941) to require mortgage foreclosure mediation in Minnesota has recently been introduced. The bill provides that foreclosure cannot proceed unless the homeowner opts out of mediation or the mediator provides an affidavit of good faith mediation by the foreclosing entity. The legislation also lists documents the foreclosing entity would be required to bring to mediation and sets a $300 fee that would go to the mediation fund when the case is filed. Minnesota State Legislature (February 25, 2014)
New Jersey legislation (Senate No. 296) would codify the state’s Foreclosure Mediation Program in order to make permanent the approach developed by the state judiciary in 2009. Eligible homeowners would submit a mediation request to initiate the process, and may have to submit additional information, but would not have to pay any fees. Foreclosure filing fees and fines would fund the program on an ongoing basis. LegiScan (January 14, 2014)
Legislation (HB 2683) has been introduced in Arizona to establish a mortgage foreclosure mediation program in the courts to be overseen by the supreme court in order to avoid foreclosure whenever possible. The legislation would require the superior court to provide mediation services and establish requirements for mediators. It also specifies the documents to be provided by each side ten days prior to mediation, and requires the fee for mediations be equally shared by lenders and homeowners. LegiScan (February 10, 2014)
A consumer organization, Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending, is encouraging legislation in Massachusetts to provide pre-foreclosure mediation similar to what exists in Connecticut to help homeowners seeking loan modifications. WWLP (February 26, 2014)
The Saving D.C. Homes from Foreclosure Act, which provides borrowers the option of mediation, dramatically changed the foreclosure process in Washington, D.C., which used to be one of the fastest in the country. Prior to the law’s implementation, lenders were sending over 150 notices of default a month, but are down to only 11 in the first three months of fiscal 2014. However, some fear that a massive logjam of borrowers is developing who ultimately will be facing foreclosure and will be so far behind that it will be even harder to reinstate their mortgages. Washington Business Journal (February 20, 2014)
The mortgage foreclosure rate is improving in Oregon, dropping from 2.9 percent a year ago to 2.4 percent, while in Portland the foreclosure rate dropped from 2.6 percent a year ago to 2.0 percent. Nationwide the number of homes in foreclosure is 33 percent lower than in January 2013. Oregon Live (February 27, 2014)
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.