Foreclosure Mediation

Three months ago, Washington state put into law a Foreclosure Fairness Act. The Washington State Commerce Department reports that most people probably are unaware of this law and only about 10% of homeowners eligible have used the program.

The law allows homeowners who are in default an option to bring their case to a mediator. Instead of negotiating with lenders or loan services, a mediator comes to be a neutral party and makes sure the rules are followed. The mediator decides if both parties acted in good faith.

Some attorneys and housing counselors offer free assistance. Sometimes cases are referred to a mediator, which costs about $200. Though not all cases end up with homeowners still in their homes, there are many cases where homeowners were able to keep their home and get renegotiated deals.

Attorneys say lenders and loan services tend to delay and deny homeowner requests to change the terms of their home loans, something that was seen often a few years ago.

Struggling homeowners can contact the Washington Foreclosure Hotline at 877-894-4663 or www.atg.wa.gov/foreclosure.aspx. They can also contact the Northwest Consumer Law Center at www.nwclc.org. which offers legal services based on income with a sliding-fee scale.