Mediation Instead of Trial

Sometimes you just want to settle a conflict.  Even if it costs you more money, sometimes it may be worth it to you personally, professionally, emotionally, or with the right set of circumstances to have a matter settled.  A Mediation rather than a Trial may be able to bring you that. In Mediation, you control the crash.  In Mediation, you do not get as much of a winner and a loser, but you do get to settle the matter.  Depending on your circumstances and your goals, Mediation may be the right thing for you. A trial is going to result in a winner and a loser, and a judge is going to decide which is which.  In Mediation, however, you have the opportunity to sit down with the other side and hammer out a deal.  Then once the deal is made, it is made, and you have settled the issue.  It gives both sides more control over the outcome. There are a number of civil law matters where Mediation can be used, such as divorce and consumer debt defense.  Seek competent legal counsel to determine if Mediation is an option in your case, and if it would be beneficial to […] Read More

Mediation Instead of Trial

In Mediation, you do not get as much of a winner and a loser, but you do get to settle the matter.  Depending on your circumstances and your goals, Mediation may be the right thing for you. A trial is going to result in a winner and a loser, and a judge is going to decide which is which.  In Mediation, however, you have the opportunity to sit down with the other side and hammer out a deal.  Then once the deal is made, it is made, and you have settled the issue.  It gives both sides more control over the outcome. There are a number of civil law matters where Mediation can be used, such as divorce.  Seek competent legal counsel to determine if Mediation is an option in your case, and if it would be beneficial to you.   Read More

Standard Operating Procedures in Foreclosure Mediation

Negotiations with your loan servicer is not neuroscience, but you do need to work with a brain that has the authority to make a deal.  In most cases, the loan servicer sends someone with as much creativity and signing power as a toenail clipping.  Let us say you are dealing with a large law firm that is representing your mortgage loan servicer, the standard operating procedure goes something like this: You send them something and it takes ten days to get to the right person.   The person you talk to on the phone is not the person in charge of your file.   The person (who is not in charge of your file) tells you, “We cannot give you what you want, but we’ll take your information”  (after you have already provided said information eight hundred times in triplicate).  That would not happen in Bankruptcy Court. Bankruptcy is becoming a popular standard operating procedure for borrowers because it motivates more meaningful conversations with the loan servicer. A Bankruptcy Mediation requires the representative to appear in person (not by telephone) and to have authority to make a deal.  Furthermore, there are monetary consequences for non-compliance with the rules, and there are audit […] Read More

Opening a Chapter on Lender Negotiations

Bankruptcy is not for everybody, but sometimes it is the best way to have a meaningful negotiation with your lender.  Whereas foreclosure mediation is generally limited to a HAMP modification, bankruptcy court offers sanctions to motivate lenders to come prepared with full authority to make a deal. Thus Chapter 13 Bankruptcies have been on the rise.  Known as the ‘Wage-Earner Plan,’ Chapter 13 protects your assets while you make payments, and allows you to catch up on unsecured debt.  It acts like a consolidation loan—you make payments to a Bankruptcy Trustee, who then distributes funds to your creditors. Bankruptcy should not be entered lightly.  Especially because of the complexity and recent major changes to the law, consult competent legal counsel before you file any chapter of bankruptcy.  For general information about Bankruptcy, the US Courts offer the following link:  http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy/BankruptcyBasics/Chapter13.aspx.   Read More

Bankruptcy Mediation Promotes More Meaningful Negotiations

Bankruptcy has long-term consequences you need to know and understand before you file.  However, sometimes Bankruptcy is the only way to have a meaningful conversation with your mortgage servicer. In Foreclosure Mediation, typically the bank’s representative appears by phone and does not have the authority to negotiate anything other than a HAMP modification (which the borrower is entitled to anyway without the added mediation fee).  It is difficult to negotiate if there is only one outcome possible. Bankruptcy is a way to make the bank put their money where their mediation is.  A Bankruptcy Mediation is different because it requires the representative to appear in person and to have authority to make a deal.  Bankruptcy Court has more teeth with monetary consequences for the bank if they do not comply with the rules. Even if you are having trouble communicating with your mortgage servicer, Bankruptcy is not for everybody.  Seek competent legal counsel to discuss all your personal and financial goals, and what legal choices are available to you.   Read More

Bankruptcy to Get a Modification

Chapter 13 Bankruptcies are becoming more popular—why?  The main reason is to get a mortgage modification.  Bankruptcy forces the lender into a meaningful negotiation…one with real sanctions. Eighty thousand dollars is the going rate for not coming prepared.  Lenders could avoid the threat of this kind of price tag if they would send the right person to negotiate mortgage modifications, someone who has authority and can get creative. A lot of homeowners do not fight back, and lenders are not prepared to encounter a foreclosure defense.  It can take them six to eight months to get the records—why?  Do they have to go make them?  Is the lender too busy?  Do they have to Photoshop the documents? Bankruptcy is not for everybody.  Neither is mortgage modification.  Seek competent legal counsel if you are facing home foreclosure to develop a strategy that best fits you.   Read More

Trouble in River City…And Beyond

Trouble starts with T that rhymes with P that stands for Mortgage-Backed Securities POOL.  In the real estate bubble, the water was fine…and then it went toxic. It takes the owner of a loan to modify that loan.  Only the owner has the authority to say, Why yes, I will take a lesser amount and negotiate the terms of that lessness. The problem with the mortgage loans that flooded into securities pools is that they lack single ownership.  The loan is owned by a lot of different investors, none of whom have the authority to make a decision which affects everyone else in the group.  Thus when a distressed homeowner sits down to a foreclosure mediation, there is no one at the table with him. Oh sure the bank sends a representative, but that person is usually authorized only to accept a HAMP modification, which the homeowner is entitled to anyway (without the expense of mediation). Mediation that starts with M that rhymes with “slim” that stands for your chances of getting a true negotiation.  A negotiation is not a negotiation if there is only one outcome possible. Mediation is great in theory, except foreclosure cases do not do so […] Read More

Fuzzy Photos of Foreclosure Mediation

Foreclosure mediation—you ever seen one of these work?  You may have fuzzy photos, but there are better portraits of the Loch Ness monster than a clear picture of success through foreclosure mediation.  In theory it is great; in practice it is…. The problem is no person on the planet has authority to negotiate.   The loan servicer is supposed to send a representative with full signing power, but with mortgage-backed securities, the loan ownership is so ambiguous that there is no one who can make decisions beyond HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program).  Bigfoot’s autograph has more signing power than the loan servicer’s representative. Furthermore, the homeowner is entitled to HAMP anyway.  Homeowners should not have to spend their time and money (half of the mediation fee) on foreclosure mediation when they are already entitled to the result. Not much of a negotiation if there is only one outcome, and even less value for the homeowner if has to pay for what he was already entitled to. Read More

Full Authority in Foreclosure Mediation

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Princess Leia says from a projected image.  It is a one-way communication, effective in that it reaches its intended recipient, the Rebel Forces are gathered, and the galaxy far far away is saved from the evil Empire.  Hooray for Princess Leia, but she was not trying to mediate a home foreclosure. Banks notoriously send a representative who lacks full authority to settle.  If the foreclosure mediation proceeds beyond a HAMP modification, the bank’s representative has to opt to “phone a friend.” In the midst of the mediation, if the bank’s representative has to call someone else to get permission, then that person on the phone is at a disadvantage.  He has not necessarily heard the borrower’s position or the mediator’s comments or the back and forth.  How can the guy on the phone make a good decision when he is not necessarily aware of all the mediation’s proceedings? The purpose of mediation is to help get parties to settle a matter, but you cannot negotiate with someone who only has the authority to offer one option.  Full authority in foreclosure mediation is our only hope.   Read More

Romantic Tragedy: Mandated Foreclosure Mediation

Never was a story of more woe than high unemployment and a housing market low.  The Montagues and Capulets were better suited for harmony.  Joblessness and depressed real estate make a marriage of poor economy.  Verona did not boast one in every nine homes had foreclosure filings when Juliet met Romeo. Daggers and poison are not the high court’s preferred resolution to the modern foreclosure crisis…neither is court-mandated mediation according to a panel of Florida’s Supreme Court.  Initiated two years ago, the mandated mediation program failed to provide incentive for lenders to send someone with authority to do more than modify the loan.  Only one choice in mediation is not a true mediation. The program was implemented to help relieve the backlog of foreclosures crowding the Florida court system; however, mandated mediation became synonymous with a one-track result—modification—and did not allow for other possibilities, such as short sale. Foreclosure in Florida is a plague on 67,886 houses.  Review of mandated mediation is one small step for Florida’s Supreme Court, and one giant leap for homeownerkind…hopefully. Mandated mediation is a romantic notion of getting a problem settled and relieving the backlog of Florida foreclosures, but it has the tragic reality of […] Read More