What Is A Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation and What Can A Homeowner Expect

Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation

As of December 2009, every county in Florida requires mandatory foreclosure mediation in all foreclosure actions of homestead properties.  Most homeowners in Florida have now heard about the foreclosure programs available but few people really know the specifics of how foreclosure mediation really works. Prior to attending your mediation there are several things you should know in order to make your mediation experience more successful.

First, it is important to note that most foreclosure mediations are a two part process. The first part of the mediation is a financial counseling session. This session is usually completed over the telephone. It involves a financial counselor asking you questions regarding your personal expenses and income. It is essential that you prepare for this counseling session because all the information you provide will be given to the bank and will be used in determining whether you qualify for any alternatives to foreclosure.  This session will take approximately forty-five minutes and you will be asked to provide net and gross income, all income deductions, expenses and debts. It would be wise to figure out this information prior to your counseling session.

Once the counseling session is done, you will be given a date for your actual mediation.  You will be required to attend your mediation in person at a designated location. The attorney for the bank will also be present and will be negotiating on the bank’s behalf. If you have an attorney, and you should, your attorney will be negotiating on your behalf. A representative of the bank will be on the telephone and will have full settlement authority to resolve your case. There will also be a mediator present.  The mediator is trained to aid conflict resolution and his/her job is to listen to both sides and attempt to facilitate the negotiation process.

Mediation is a completely confidential procedure. Everything you say will be kept confidential and nothing you say or admit will be admissible in court. It is also a voluntary process, meaning that you will not be required to settle your case or to accept any offers the bank may make you. Instead it is an opportunity for you to sit down face to face with the bank’s attorney and try to work out a successful resolution to your case whether it involves you saving your home or selling it. While in the mediation session, the financial information you provided during financial counseling will be reviewed by the bank representative and his/her attorney. Based on that information the bank will offer you any potential alternative to foreclosure that you qualify for.  If you do not qualify for any settlement options at that time they mediation will be deemed to be at an impasse and will be concluded.

Mediation can be a very successful part of the foreclosure litigation process.  However, many homeowners go astray by being unprepared and not actively negotiating with the lender.  Keep in mind that the bank will be represented by an attorney and it would be wise for a homeowner to also be represented by a qualified foreclosure attorney.