Washington state legislature passes foreclosure mediation bill
The Washington state legislature passed a bill this week providing delinquent homeowners a chance at foreclosure mediation. The nonjudicial state held the 14th highest foreclosure rate in February. One in 642 properties received a filing for the month. The 4,300 properties was a 64% increase from one year ago, according to RealtyTrac. The bill sets out to "provide a process for foreclosure mediation when a housing counselor or attorney determines that mediation is appropriate." According to the legislation, parties can attend the meeting either in person, telephone, through an agent or some other method. Lenders are required to provide a notice to the borrower of how much, including fees, is needed to reinstate the deed of trust before recording the notice of foreclosure sale. The lender is also required to give the borrower notice of his or her option to pursue the mediation. Speaking at the Source Media Mortgage Servicing Conference Wednesday, Jeff Freud, found of Loanmarket.net, and former executive in the servicing industry, complained that as mediation grew more common in both judicial and nonjudicial states, servicers wouldn't be able to handle the cost. "Who shows up at the mediation? How high up a decision maker do you want? Because we'll have to build that cost in, and I don't think anyone has ever come up with a profitable business model for that level of special servicing," Freud said. A Senate committee recently passed a bill that would clear bankruptcy courts across the country to set up foreclosure mediation programs similar to the ones already set up in Florida, Rhode Island, several districts of New York and others. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.