Hi to all - at the last telephone conference, I asked if any of you have issues with folks not being represented and being pressured by the attorney for beneficiary, to close out in bad faith because of the lack of representation. I was also wondering if it was something I should have brought to Bruce Neas attention since he was asking for any input on issues that might be up for discussion during the upcoming event.
here is what I sent to Bruce (through dept. of commerce):
Hi Bruce - I am part of the Independent Foreclosure Mediators group and was in on the phone session a couple of weeks ago. You asked for input on questions or concerns we might have or things we might want addressed at the upcoming all mediator event in November.
I am not sure if this is anecdotal or part of a trend, but recently I have had a case where the borrower was not being represented. The beneficiary side wanted me to close out the file with bad faith to the borrower because he hadn't produced all the documents they had required. (they requested this before the mediation date). I called the housing counselor who had referred him to mediation to see why he wasn't represented and she told me simply that her schedule was so booked she could not take on another case at this time. I was surprised by that and asked if she just sent people into the program and then said "you're on your own?" She replied that it was unfortunate but that yes, they did it all the time.
I am happy to say that we went ahead and had the mediation, the underwriter on the phone was one of the first I have dealt with who actually was productive and helpful and now the borrower has a full packet in for review, in hopes of a loan modification.
So my questions - is there really a shortage of counselors and people are falling through the cracks? Do we need to talk about the difference in case management (represented borrowers versus non represented) for mediators?
So now, I am wondering from you, do you think there is any sort of trend, or do you think this is an isolated case?
I haven heard back from Bruce yet, but will let you know when I do. Any thoughts?
When a Dept Commerce FFA mediation referral arrives w/ an unrepresented borrower, yes, additional care is needed - making sure the content of my correspondence doesn't include assumptions re: procedural next steps and consequences of some lapse.
That said, I have _not_ been asked to certify NGF because a borrower participated w/o counsel, but because they've been asked to do things identified in the statute, the Dept's referral letter, my appointment letter and follow-up requests from the beneficiary's rep, and borrower hasn't done what they were supposed to do. A NGF certification never arrives "out of the blue".
Two recent NGF certifications were both represented by counsel - one, up to the day they refused to meet at session after four re-scheduling agreements (atty refused to come also - !) another terminated representation early in the summer and ignored multiple doc requests from underwriting, convincing me _nothing_ was gonna make those papers come.
Two other borrowers recently completed their cases w/o representation - one to short sale following session and another selling w/ equity boot before (rescheduled) session.
Can't say whether there's a trend developing - self-represented parties have always been part of the landscape, and many of us on this panel regularly serve the pro-bono/lo-bono sector.
And any of us who serve this diverse clientele-base can confirm, from their own experience, there's usually more than one reason why a person comes to an important event like FFA mediation w/o counsel.
Maybe this will be addressed in more detail when DoC meets this fall.
All respect – David K. Hiscock
Easy Online Scheduling Calendar: use this link to set hearing/mediation dates
Lori: Perhaps it is a county by county issue. I have cases in King County and have had less than five out of more than 100 cases with a borrower that was unrepresented.
If it is a funding issue then that is certainly something that needs to be brought to the attention of the powers that be. Maybe Tina Orwell as well. Jeff may know more about that than anyone.
I know that the DRC's have recently received monies from the AG's office for continued foreclosure work. I do not know if that was a grant or what, but it would seem if the DRC's are getting money for scheduling, etc., then it would seem reasonable to fund the housing counselors or borrowers advocates.
Do you know if the local Bar Association has a pro bono legal clinic or assistance program?
I have only had one party that was unrepresented in the early day of the FFA. Frankly, he did a better job than most housing counselors and attorneys. In the last year, I have seen an increase of cases where the borrower was represented by counsel and they brought an expert with them that actually asked all the right questions. I am not sure what the experts rates were, but in every case, the expert did not change the outcome.