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Just Court ADR

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Posts Tagged ‘foreclosure’

Authorities Crack Down on Foreclosure Rescue Scams with “Operation Mis-Modification”

Shawn Davis, July 30th, 2014

Recently, the foreclosure mediation team at RSI has been thinking a lot about foreclosure scams and mortgage modification fraud. Now that we’ve launched foreclosure mediation programs in Lake, Kane and Winnebago Counties here in Illinois, we’ve been focusing on how to provide quality housing counseling and mediation services and get the word out to the public that these services exist. The problem is, it can be difficult to get our message out about the free, high-quality, court-sponsored programs we offer when homeowners in foreclosure are often bombarded with offers for foreclosure help from less than reputable sources. Foreclosure scammers are often very savvy about how to target vulnerable populations, making it difficult for the average homeowner to distinguish these offers from legitimate, government-sponsored programs. As the RSI foreclosure mediation team works with homeowners and conducts outreach, we have seen the devastating effects of these scams first-hand. We are working with the courts to provide better information to homeowners in the form of websites and brochures that offer resources about what to look out for and how to report incidents of fraud.

Last Wednesday there was an exciting development in the effort to crack down on foreclosure scams, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 15 states, including Illinois, suing alleged mortgage foreclosure scammers in what is being called “Operation Mis-Modification.” (more…)

Be Mindful of the Sunk-Cost Bias Trap

Shawn Davis, June 18th, 2014

Just the other day, I learned the term “sunk-cost bias” and immediately thought of the mortgage foreclosure work that I do. The term was new to me, but the concept was not: sunk-cost bias describes why it’s so hard for us to walk away from something and cut our losses (and explains why I spent 3 hours waiting in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland). With sunk-cost bias, our minds go through a process of telling us that we should hold on because otherwise the time, money and energy already invested would be a waste, even when such a decision is irrational and just sinks us further in the hole. The concept can have very real implications for more serious life choices, like whether or not to remain in a home once in foreclosure. (more…)

Foreclosure Mediation May Be Good For Your Health

Shawn Davis, May 21st, 2014

While we can all imagine that going through the foreclosure process can be stressful for homeowners and their families, now there is a study that concludes it may also be stressful for the neighbors. A new study released in the May 12, 2014 edition of Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, found that individuals experienced an average 1.71 millimeters of mercury increase in systolic blood pressure for every foreclosure within 100 meters of their home. While that may not seem like much, such a rise in blood pressure is roughly equivalent to the increase a person experiences as a result of three years of aging.

Another interesting aspect of the study was that health consequences were dependent on how foreclosures were resolved. Properties that slipped into foreclosure, but then recovered or were quickly sold, did not result in negative health consequences for community members. Rather, blood pressure rates started to rise when foreclosure led to properties that languished with uncertainty, resulting in vacant homes and neighborhood blight.

If the uncertainty of foreclosure and the empty or poorly maintained properties that can result is the health concern, then mediation may be part of the cure. (more…)

Foreclosure Mediation Programs Reflect and Refine

Shawn Davis, April 22nd, 2014

Foreclosure mediation programs can now be found all over the country. Models vary widely, both in their rules and procedures and in terms of the populations they serve. Most programs were started as a response to the mortgage foreclosure crisis and some programs have been around for a number of years now. While it’s often argued that the worst of the housing crisis is behind us and that foreclosure mediation programs are no longer necessary, new studies are revealing that the need is there, that programs can be effective, and that there are lessons to be learned in terms of how programs can maximize results.

Maine is one state evaluating its foreclosure response and concluding that foreclosure mediation is having a positive impact. (more…)

Illinois Foreclosure Mediation Updates

Shawn Davis, March 19th, 2014

In the summer of 2013, RSI received a grant from the Illinois Attorney General to incubate foreclosure mediation programs throughout the state of Illinois. Through the grant, RSI is directly responsible for helping to develop and staff programs in Lake, Kane and Winnebago counties. We have also been tasked with training foreclosure mediators and developing a cloud-based online case management, monitoring and evaluation system for all foreclosure mediation incubation programs throughout Illinois. RSI and our program partners have been busy expanding the reach of foreclosure mediation and we would like to share some exciting progress with you.  (more…)