The Seventh Judicial Circuit Court recently announced the selection of The Upchurch Watson White and Max Mediation Group to serve as program manager for its Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program (RMFMP). The plan is designed to bring lenders and borrowers together with certified mediators with the goal of reducing the numbers of people facing the threat of losing their homes.
The official launch date for the 7th Circuit’s program is Monday, July 19. Foreclosure cases involving homestead properties filed in the Seventh Circuit on or after July 19, 2010, will be automatically referred to the program. The program manager will contact Homeowners/Borrowers within a matter of days of their being served with the foreclosure complaint to provide them with information regarding the RMFMP; to outline the program’s purpose, explain the mediation process and advise the homeowner that their participation is voluntary.
The Upchurch Watson White and Max Mediation Group is honored to have been selected as the program manager and John Upchurch, a founding partner of the group, has indicated that he is especially proud to be offering a foreclosure mediation program which he believes encompasses the “best practices” in foreclosure mediation and foreclosure mediation administration throughout the state of Florida.
“We have great expectations for this program” said Upchurch. “Because we believe that this program will expedite those cases where there is no alternative to foreclosure, properly educate, inform and guide the parties in cases where there are reasonable alternatives to foreclosure and more effectively and efficiently move cases through the judicial system, we anticipate the program benefiting homeowners/borrowers, lenders and the court system alike.”
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM PROCESS
Upon the filing of a foreclosure case against a primary residence, a homeowner will be contacted by staff from the program. The homeowner will be encouraged to participate in the program and will be informed that participation requires a mandatory meeting with a HUD-certified financial counselor who will conduct an in-person comprehensive, substantive evaluation of the homeowner’s finances. Upon completion of foreclosure counseling a mediator will be appointed and a mediation date set so that the parties, with the assistance of a neutral, specially trained foreclosure mediator, can explore a variety of alternatives to foreclosure including but not limited to loan modification, short sale and deed in lieu of foreclosure.
Participation in the program is funded by the lenders who are required to pay the program’s administrative and mediation fees however if the mediation results in an impasse the fee may be added to the final judgment of foreclosure at the end of the case.