Maine has created a mediation process that should help reduce the number of foreclosures that occur in the state. The Foreclosure Diversion Program offers borrowers and lenders the opportunity to participate and communicate in a court sponsored mediation session that will occur at the beginning of the foreclosure process, so it will be early enough to make a difference. The program was established to help a homeowner either prevent, or stop, a foreclosure, and the ultimate goal is to find a solution that works for both the borrower and the lender and that keeps the family in the home.
The process will begin after a foreclosure complaint has been filed against the homeowner by their bank or mortgage servicer. After the homeowner receives the notice, and if they respond to the complaint, they will then be automatically referred to the program for assistance.
There are some conditions that need to be met in order to receive help. The Foreclosure Diversion Program was established to assist an owner-occupied residential property that is the subject of a mortgage foreclosure action. It will not aid investors or speculators or people that bought real estate as an investment. In addition, the property must be the homeowner’s primary residence and it also needs to have four or fewer units.
A foreclosure case is automatically eligible for the mediation process when the homeowner files an appearance, answer, or if they request mediation within 20 days of being served with the foreclosure summons. This timeframe starts when they get a complaint from the lender and local court system.
The borrower will receive notice of when and where the foreclosure mediation session will be held when they receive the foreclosure mediation scheduling order. This is sent to them directly from the court system.
Some of the details include the following. The homeowner will need to attend an informational session that will be held in a courtroom to learn additional details about the Maine Diversion program. They will also be educated about the foreclosure process as well as various services and resources that are available to assist them through the process, including how to get government mortgage help. In some local areas, the homeowner may be able to meet with local community resources for individualized assistance.
The lender and homeowner will need to exchange financial information. After this occurs, all the parties will come together with a neutral third party, which is the trained mediator. The mediator will try to come up with a plan on which both sides agree, though the agreement is voluntary. Some of the solutions may include a loan modification, extension of payment terms, or more. The homeowner has the opportunity to ask questions of the lender, and if the questions are not answered, they have the ability to pursue the issue while working with the mediator.
The mediation session will usually be held at the local courthouse. However, if agreed to by the parties involved in the session, mediation may be scheduled at other locations. Another pro of the program is that you do not have to be represented by a lawyer to participate in this Program, so that will help reduce expenses. Dial (207) 822-0706 to contact the program director to learn more about the Maine Diversion program, or click here to learn more about foreclosure mediation.
The program did go through a trial phase in York County. According to the judge overseeing the program during the trial phase, almost 70% of foreclosure cases were resolved and a solution was agreed upon through mediation and negotiation. So it has been very successful.
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