Monday, November 4, 2013

Foreclosure Actions Down—Way Down—As Oregon’s New Foreclosure Mediation Program Ramps Up—Way Up

There is good news on the often gloomy foreclosure defense front.

Oregon’s new foreclosure mediation program is only a few months old, but lenders (yes, lenders!) have referred over 1,700 new cases to the Mediation Case Manager, the agency responsible for running the program for the state. Of that, more than 1300 cases were just received in the last few weeks.

Chase Bank is the largest bank participating so far with more than 600 requests. The four banks with the most mediation requests are Chase, Nationstar, Green Tree Servicing and US Bank. Bank of America and Wells Fargo—the state’s largest mortgage lender—have yet to submit mediation requests. However, B of A and Well Fargo are (purportedly) preparing to submit a large volume of cases “soon.”

If true, that is really, really good news.

The new mediation program requires the state’s large mortgage lenders to offer a meeting with homeowners before they can foreclose. Lenders must submit mediation requests to the Mediation Case Manager and homeowners are then contacted by a Mediation Case Manager representative notifying them of the request. Homeowner’s must then pay a fee—$50 or $175 depending on household income—to participate in the program and work with a HUD-approved housing counselor. Housing counselors will work with homeowners throughout the process and help homeowners obtain and complete the required documents and upload these documents to the mediation program online portal. Housing counselors will also be available to review the lender's documents once they are available in the online system. In some cases, housing counselors may attend the mediation conference with homeowners and serve as an advocate and aid in the discussion on foreclosure avoidance options.

At present, there are currently 100+ mediations scheduled for November and December.

Unsurprisingly, the success of the new mediation program has had a direct impact on the number of new foreclosure actions throughout the state. New foreclosure cases have virtually ground to a halt while the first wave of mediations make their way through the program. According to numbers compiled by Gorilla Capital, a Eugene company that buys and resells distressed properties, foreclosures in the state’s largest seven counties have fallen by 42 percent from a year ago and 80 percent from a month earlier month. While this might be a temporary reprieve, the opportunity for a struggling homeowner to have a face-to-face meeting with a lender is meaningful and should not be ignored. Our hope is that a large percentage of these mediations will result in some sort of agreement—whether that agreement is for a loan modification, a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Time will tell.

If you have any questions about the new mediation program, please visit the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program website or call Garland, Griffiths Knaupp at (503) 846-0707. We’re here to help.

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