With thousands of homeowners still losing their homes to foreclosure, the local Judicial Circuit Court of Florida which covers Hardee, Highlands and Polk county has created a foreclosure mediation program. The goal of the service is to help reduce the still too high number of home foreclosures in the local region.
The local court is offering this service that is based upon the Collins Center for Public Policy Foreclosure Mediation Program. This program, which is run by many local agencies, court systems and counties across the state, provides an opportunity for local homeowners and their bank or lenders to find solutions to and hopefully resolve the foreclosure case out of court system. Of course, the primary goal of mediation is to find some type of solution that allows the home owner to stay in their home if possible, and that also satisfies the lenders financial needs.
So a total of three local agencies and/or courts have partnered together to offer this option. Central Florida Mediation Group has joined together with the Collins Center to manage the 10th Circuit's foreclosure mediation program. The mediation program is provided at no expense to the home owner, and a professional, well trained mediator is tasked with finding a solution to the mortgage crisis that is being experienced.
Many experts agree that one of the key advantages of a foreclosure mediation program is that it gives both lenders and homeowners the opportunity to talk openly and privately with a professional, neutral mediator. Together these three parties are provided the opportunity and healthy environment to work towards a reasonable, practical solution to the borrowers mortgage problems. Face to face communication is always very helpful, and usually shows the best results. Oftentimes this meetings provide the first opportunity that either the borrower or lender has had to sit down and discuss recent changes in the homeowner's financial situation, discuss their mortgage problems, and to discuss new solutions to the hardship.
Before these foreclosure mediation programs began, usually the only option for homeowners was to meet with a HUD-approved financial counselor, which would also be at no cost to the homeowner. This option still exists, and may also be useful. During this meeting, the homeowner will work with the housing counselor to find solution, and now these meeting will provide the opportunity to complete the financial documents they must bring to the mediation session.
The programs have been used in other area of Florida to date. Since the Collins Center's foreclosure mediation programs began to roll out across Florida in March 2009, the Center has managed approximately 6,000 scheduled foreclosure mediation sessions. More than 3,300 of these cases were settled successfully during mediation, so the success rate is over 50%. In addition to that, an additional 900 were settled before mediation as a result of the Collins Center facilitating communication between the parties, for a total of 4,200 positive outcomes. So that is 2/3 of foreclosures cases, or a 66% success rate, in mediation. When you are faced with a foreclosure in Hardee, Highlands, or Polk County, ask the court system about the mediation program and use this resource.
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