A basic introduction to Washington's new mediation process for homeowners facing foreclosure. Current as of December 2011. You can help us make NJP's videos better! Please let us know what you thought about the video by answering this brief survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/njpvideos.
Produced by the Northwest Justice Project: http://www.nwjustice.org
For more free legal information, visit: http://www.WashingtonLawHelp.org
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Welcome to the Northwest Justice Project's webcast about Foreclosure Mediation in Washington State.
The foreclosure process can be a long and bumpy road... but some people facing foreclosure in Washington now have another path to stay in their home: Mediation.
Your bank or mortgage company now must tell you about your new options before foreclosure. After you miss a few payments, you should receive a written "Notice of Pre-Foreclosure Options."
You then have thirty days to ask for a meeting with your bank to talk about alternatives to foreclosure. This first meeting is not mediation, but if you and the bank don't agree on a plan, an attorney or housing counselor can help you take the next step: asking for mediation.
You have to have a referral from an attorney or counselor to get to go to mediation. If you haven't talked to a housing counselor or attorney about your options, do it right now. He or she can discuss whether you qualify and then send a mediation request form to the state's Department of Commerce.
Find more information on housing counselors from the Homeownership Resource Center at 1-877-894-HOME. You may also get a referral or qualify for free legal help from the Northwest Justice Project. Call 1-800-606-4819.
After the request is sent, watch your mailbox. You should get some important instructions, and a list of documents you'll need to bring to the upcoming mediation. Try to hustle and gather the paperwork together. Your attorney or housing counselor can help you. You must send copies of your documents to the bank and mediator at least 10 days before the mediation day.
You and the mortgage company will split the cost of the $400 mediation fee.
To avoid foreclosure, you'll have to do some more homework. Mediation is your chance to show why you should stay in your home. You'll get to explain why you fell behind. And you'll also have to show a detailed financial plan showing how you'll keep up with payments in the future. Talk to an attorney or housing counselor for help on writing up your proposal.
It's important to have a realistic proposal; you probably won't be able to stay in your house If you don't have enough income to pay even a reduced loan payment.
On the day of your mediation, show up early. Bring all your documents and extra copies. So, who's going to be in the mediation room? The bank's attorney will be there... and another person from the bank (probably on a speaker phone). Your attorney or housing counselor might be there, or you can bring a friend or family member for support. And of course you'll be there.
And then the mediator— the mediator is kind of like a judge. She won't take sides between you and the bank. But unlike a judge, she can't order you or the bank to do something. It's okay to ask the mediator questions about the process or the bank's documents if you don't understand.
When the mediation starts, you will have time to show your documents and explain your proposal to pay. Be completely honest if you get asked any questions.
Then someone from the bank will tell the bank's side of the story. The bank will have math calculations to show how much it would cost the bank to foreclose compared with allowing you to stay but with a reduced loan payment.
If you don't make a new payment agreement, be prepared to discuss your other options such as a later move-out date or short-sale. You should talk about these options with your housing counselor or attorney before the mediation so you're ready.
If you and the bank agree on a new plan, make sure you understand exactly what you'll owe, and when. You can ask the mediator to help put it in writing, and have everybody sign it for proof. Your new payment plan may include a trial period to make sure you can really make the reduced payments. These are the most important payments you will make, because if you miss one, you won't get a full loan modification and the bank may start foreclosure again.
Stick to the plan, though, and you may be able to stay in your home.
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This video was produced in December 2011. The laws may have changed since that time. This video provides general information only. Your situation may be very different than those shown in this video. This video is not a substitute for talking to a lawyer about your unique situation. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. It cannot predict or guarantee an outcome in any proceedings related to foreclosure mediation.