The Supreme Court of Nevada ordered changes to the state’s foreclosure mediation program that will extend the time period for the mediation program to take place. Starting June 1, the mediation time period is extended from 90 days to 135 days. Each case begins on the date the court receives the required documents and fees for the mediation program. The court order requires lenders and investors to participate in the mediation program when an owner-occupant borrower requests it. Once a mediator is assigned a case, the official is required to schedule the mediation session within 45 days. The new rules allow for temporary modifications, but any agreement between the two parties must include an expiration date. Mediators must be lawyers licensed in Nevada or experienced mediators. To be considered an experienced mediator, a person must complete a training program that consists of 40 hours classroom work and participation in 10 mediations as sole or co-mediator. Mediators are also required to participate in a four-hour training on education in mortgages, deeds of trust, promissory notes, loan modifications and Nevada foreclosure laws. The new rules encourage the mediation to take place in person, but if the mediator approves it in advance, the mortgagee can participate by phone. The new rules also allow parties in the mediation to file a petition for judicial review in state district court to determine whether either party negotiated in bad faith, enforce agreements between the two parties and determining appropriate sanctions. However, the parties are prohibited from recording the mediation session for the purpose of making a record for judicial review. Mediators are not allowed to conduct more than three mediation sessions in one day without approval from the court, and all mediation sessions must take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. While Nevada is extending its mediation program for distressed borrowers, in Colorado, a new law is speeding up REO sales. The law, signed by Gov. Bill Ritter in late April and takes effect on August 1, reduces the time it takes a mortgagee to sell a foreclosed property that is vacant. Previously, the time frame was 110-125 days, now, a lender or investor can sell a REO property in as little as 45 days. “This is an important bill for Colorado. Shortening the time frame on the sale of abandoned properties helps to reduce blight, sustains home values and benefits us all,” said Caren Castle, a partner at the Castle Meinhold & Stawiarski law firm. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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