Should you miss work to attend a foreclosure settlement conference? When you’re facing foreclosure in New York, it seems to consume your entire world. When you’re at home you’re thinking about how to save your home. When you’re at work you think about the same thing. Yes, and when you’re watching the Knicks beat up on the Lakers, fighting your mortgage lender is still on your mind. However, is a New York foreclosure settlement conference really worth your time?
What is a settlement conference?
In response to the foreclosure crisis in New York and around the country, the state implemented mediation programs to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Its mediation program, or foreclosure settlement conference, you and your lender meet face-to-face to negotiate an agreement. According to the 2009 law, you have to meet the following criteria to participate in a conference:
- The case concerns residential property.
- The property is owner occupied with one to four units.
If your case started prior to February 13, 2010, the settlement conference is optional. However, if one of the following occurred, then the conference is mandatory:
- Your foreclosure case involves a high-cost, subprime or non-traditional loan
- And was started between September 1, 2008 to February 13, 2010
- Your foreclosure case started after February 13, 2010.
Once the lawsuit is filed a foreclosure settlement conference is schedule about 60 days after you’re served with the complaint and summons. If no settlement is reached, another conference is scheduled by a judge every 30 days. So in six months you can attend six foreclosure settlement conferences. That’s a lot of time off work. However, it’s worth it to save your home, right?
What’s discussed in a foreclosure settlement conference?
The goal of the settlement conference is a way out of the foreclosure process. This means that you either give up the property or find a solution to keep your home. The potential outcomes discussed generally include:
- Loan modification.
- Forbearance agreement.
- Deed in lieu of foreclosure.
- Short sale.
In addition, at the conference the court’s representative will discuss:
- The obligations and rights of you and the lender.
- Whether you and your lender can reach a settlement.
- Evaluate settlement options.
- Plan any subsequent court hearing in case a settlement can’t be reached.
Do you need a foreclosure attorney or should you represent yourself?
A foreclosure settlement conference sounds like a friendly chit chat among friends. It’s not. You and your lender’s representative are trying to negotiate a way out of the foreclosure.
Honestly, without proper representation it’s difficult to negotiate a settlement to save your home. You don’t have the proper legal training to obtain a fair settlement or assert your legal rights. That’s why the state will provide a court-appointed lawyer for you if you try to represent yourself. Wouldn’t you rather have a lawyer that you picked instead of one picked by the state?
A word of warning:
Participating in a foreclosure settlement conference is tough work. Also, it doesn’t mean you’ll avoid foreclosure. However, a lender is more likely to agree to an alternative solution at a foreclosure settlement conference than talking on the phone. For instance, you may qualify for loss mitigation, and goals or deadlines for the loan modification process can be set at this conference.
Therefore, this hearing is worth the time and effort. You shouldn’t ignore any conferences. It may mean the difference between saving your home and moving somewhere else. Hiring an attorney is vital to understanding more about the process and negotiating in the settlement conference.