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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Posts Tagged ‘foreclosure’

Introducing RSI’s Foreclosure Mediation Research Intern

Shawn Davis, August 29th, 2014

MJ ScheerPlease join me in welcoming MJ Scheer to the RSI team. MJ is a second-year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law who is pursuing a career in appellate civil litigation, mediation, and arbitration. She will be with us for the fall semester, updating RSI’s national foreclosure mediation resources.

MJ has a passion for mediation and a history of studying foreclosure mediation and court-connected mediation programs. Her undergraduate thesis at Northwestern University was a comparison of foreclosure mediation programs in Oregon and Maine and an analysis of the symbolic nature of the state laws and statutes that gave them life. After graduation, MJ received a Master’s in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University, where she focused her studies and expertise on the intersection of ADR and the law. Additionally, MJ has been certified by the state of Virginia to practice mediation in small claims court in General District Court in the state of Virginia through Northern Virginia Mediation Service (NVMS). At Loyola, MJ is a member of Volume 46 of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal as a staff member, as well as Loyola’s 2014-2015 Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

Here at RSI, MJ will research the changes and updates to foreclosure mediation programs throughout the country. If you have seen RSI’s Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Program Models State-by-State or Foreclosure Mediation Program Funding documents, we are excited to report that updates are around the corner! Also, if you work in the field of foreclosure mediation, we’d love to hear from you, so we can ensure that we are reporting the most relevant and up-to-date information about the work that you are doing. MJ can be reached at intern[at]aboutrsi[dot]org.

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…)