Most Florida foreclosure cases follow the same timeline: a homeowner misses several mortgage payments, the bank waits until that homeowner is at least 120 days behind on payments to initiate the foreclosure process, a court case is filed, and the formal foreclosure proceedings begin. These cases are notoriously slow; it can sometimes take two and a half years to finalize a foreclosure case in Florida.
Many attorneys who handle foreclosure cases in Miami have begun taking more of these cases to a mediator. A high percentage of foreclosure cases actually settle at mediation. The mediator helps the mortgage lender and the borrower negotiate a settlement that resolves the foreclosure dispute. Common settlement terms include loan modifications, short sales, forbearance agreements, deeds in lieu of foreclosure, and repayment agreements.
Foreclosure cases are excellent candidates for mediation because typically, the mortgage lenders prefer to have a mortgage paid instead of obtaining someone’s home. Therefore, the mortgage lender is open to negotiations with the borrower to figure out a way to pay the balance owed on the home. Since mediation allows the parties to become very creative with their settlement terms, it is likely that the parties will find a way to settle the case.
In addition, scheduling mediation can buy time for your clients. Once foreclosure mediation has been requested in Florida, the mortgage lender cannot foreclose on the home. Since there is a large backlog of foreclosure cases in Florida, requesting mediation as soon as possible may buy months of time that your client may use to rectify the situation.
By understanding the many benefits of foreclosure mediation, you will be better able to serve your clients. Foreclosure is scary for homeowners, and attorneys who help their clients make this process more bearable will stand out in their local bar associations.