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Fort-Lauderdale Foreclosed Homes to Surge Despite Mediation



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By : John Cutts    99 or more times read
The number of Fort-Lauderdale foreclosed homes is expected to rise despite the mediation program implemented by the Florida Supreme Court, according to Fort Lauderdale foreclosure mediator and real estate lawyer Shari Olefson.

According to Olefson, distressed homeowners should not put all their hopes on the court-supervised mediation program because the outcome of the mediation process will still rely on the current financial capabilities of borrowers. Loan modification will be done only if the debt-income ratio of the borrower qualifies under the modification program.

The mediation scheme was implemented to help homeowners in Florida save their homes and at the same time help the courts manage the backlog of foreclosure cases. It was implemented through the issuance of an administrative order requiring judges across Florida to order mediation first before processing foreclosure cases involving homesteaded properties. The order was written by Chief Judge Peggy Quince.

Olefson, who also wrote “Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream,” said that the mediation program does not function as a defense process for the borrower. Under mediation, the mediator does not even advise the borrower to reduce expenses in order to qualify for mortgage modification. The mediator just asks probing questions to unearth information that may help move the mediation process.

The number of Fort-Lauderdale foreclosed homes as reported by a task force on foreclosure court cases may have been reduced, but in reality, the report may have been referring to short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosure. The task force previously reported that the mediation process has a 73-percent success rate for settling foreclosure cases.

Statewide, there are about 456,000 foreclosure cases which are clogging the court system. In the third quarter last year, the Fort Lauderdale-Miami-Pompano Beach metropolitan area had nearly 54,000 foreclosure postings, putting the area 14th in a chart of metropolitan foreclosure rates. Despite slowing down a bit compared to the previous quarter, the pace of foreclosure in the area still increased by almost 35 percent over a 12-month period.

Under the mediation program, borrowers are informed about the mediation program through instructions included in the foreclosure summons. A mediator from a nonprofit organization walks lenders and homeowners through the mediation process, which will occur within two to four months after the summons. If borrowers decide to participate in the mediation program, they need to accomplish financial disclosure documents and meet with a foreclosure prevention counselor.
John Cutts has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.

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