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Florida bankruptcy courts may soon initiate foreclosure mediation

As many unfortunate homeowners have found out, the foreclosure process in South Florida can be nearly impossible to navigate. Phone calls to lenders to go unanswered. Pleas for loan modifications are ignored. And in the end, homeowners find themselves out of their homes and feeling like they were not given a chance to find an alternative solution.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to give bankruptcy courts across the nation, including those in Florida, the authority to initiate foreclosure mediation programs. Some states that already have foreclosure mediation programs had faced judicial fights from lenders, but this bill should put an end to those legal battles.

Supporters of the bill say that too many people "throughout the country have been hurt by a broken foreclosure system." One Senator pointed out that homeowners who are significantly behind on payments often face "long waits on the phone, lost paperwork and an inability to speak with someone who'll give their last name or make a decision."

Foreclosure is rarely in anyone's best interests. The foreclosure mediation programs aim to bring lenders and homeowners together to reach alternative solutions. Banks and struggling homeowners both benefit from finding other solutions such as loan modifications.

Supporters of the bill acknowledge that "this program will not prevent all foreclosures," but they point out that the goal is to give homeowners a fair chance. The current foreclosure system leaves most homeowners feeling helpless to stop foreclosure. As more bankruptcy courts begin to set up foreclosure mediation programs, hopefully more homeowners will feel that they can have some input into the process.

Homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments can benefit from discussing their situation with an experienced foreclosure defense attorney. Someone who understands the process may be able to help them avoid foreclosure.

Source: Housing Wire, "Senate committee clears bankruptcy courts to set up foreclosure mediation," Jon Prior, 31 March 2011

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