Thursday, December 11, 2008

Judge Offers Foreclosure Help

Foreclosures... probably THE real estate story of 2008. It is truly a shame that the abundance of these Foreclosures even exists. That being said...these conditions have created unprecedented opportunities for buyers that are liquid and willing to look at the long term picture. I saw this article in the Keysnews.Com and thought it really spoke to the heart of the matter.

"Judge offers foreclosure help
Free Press Staff
A circuit judge has appointed five mediators to help stem the rising tide of uncontested home foreclosures.
Monroe County judges have heard 1,612 foreclosure cases so far this year, according to 16th Judicial Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, which is almost double last year's 932 cases.
"The cases we heard in 2007 were way up from cases in 2006," Garcia said. "I just want to get the word out to homeowners facing foreclosure not to give up."
About 95 percent of the foreclosure cases are uncontested, Garcia said. So he has made a move to remedy what he sees as a premature surrender: If homeowners come to the hearing and show a willingness to work with their lender, he will appoint a mediator at no charge to the homeowner.
"I called the local [Florida] Bar association and within minutes I had five attorneys volunteer to serve as mediators," Garcia said. "People simply do not show up at the foreclosure hearings. For those who have tried everything but have not given up, come to the hearing. There may still be hope for you to keep your home."
Nick Mulick is one of the attorneys who has volunteered.
"We can facilitate the negotiation of a feasible workout by bringing the decision-makers to the table with the property owners," he said. "I will serve as a moderator to ensure that the parties don't get bogged down."
Mulick said lenders are willing to negotiate.
"Banks and other lenders don't want to get bogged down with nonperforming loans," he said. "They want to avoid that at all costs."
A mediator can help by persuading the mortgage-holder to reduce interest rates, defer payments for a year or change the terms of the loan, he said.
Dirk Smits, regional managing member of Vernis & Bowling, has volunteered to mediate foreclosure cases.
"People are terrified of court, but there is relief out there, especially if you have found a buyer," he said.
"If you have a $500,000 home and come with a buyer offering $300,000, chances are good the bank will take that offer. They will have to sell [your home] anyway. With a buyer they get a chunk of their money and are better off than trying to sell it on today's market."
Besides Smits and Mulick, Russ Cullen, Tim Thomes and Bill Crispin have volunteered their services.
"Hopefully we can save some homes and help keep the banks solvent," Mulick said."

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