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New Revised Guidelines for Washington’s Foreclosure Fairness Program

Seattle Short Sales - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Foreclosure Fairness Program (FFP) was created in 2011 by the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA). The program is developed and administered by the WA Department of Commerce. The aim of the FFP is to reduce foreclosures in Washington state by encouraging mediation between homeowners who are at risk of being foreclosed upon, and their lenders. Its aim is to avoid foreclosure by exploring alternatives, such as loan modifications or short sales.

Through the FFP, a mediator is assigned who will work with the borrower and the lender to find an alternative to foreclosure that is appropriate to their situation. Specifically, the program guidelines aim to coming up with some sort of loan modification. However, if both parties want to work towards a different solution, such as a short sale, the mediator will work with them at their direction

Much of the value of the FFP is that it slows down the pace of foreclosure, providing defined steps and timelines, so that homeowners may have some breathing space and seek guidance about what alternatives are available to them. The FFP mediation process typically occurs over a 70-day timeline (and that period can be extended if both parties agree to the extension). The FFA states specifically that if a borrower has been referred to mediation after a NOTS has been recorded, that Trustee Sale may not take place until the trustee receives a certificate stating that the mediation has been completed. In other words, lenders may not rush a Trustee Sale without taking the time to fully investigate other options with the borrower through the mediator.

FFP guidelines are updated from time to time, and they were most recently updated by the Department of Commerce this month. Click this link for a complete listing of Foreclosure Fairness Program guidelines updated as of June 6, 2013. Following are some of the highlights of the newly revised guidelines:

  • The FFP is for borrowers with a mortgage for “residential real property,” which means a single-family residence, a residential condominium unit, or a residential cooperative unit.  The home must be the principal residence of the borrower at the time that contact under the FFA was made - however, borrowers remain eligible for mediation even if they move after that initial contact.
  • Second mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) may be eligible for mediation under the FFP provided that all other eligibility criteria are met.
  • Borrowers must be referred to the program for foreclosure mediation by a housing counselor or by an attorney. Borrowers who received a Notice of Default after July 22, 2011, are eligible to be referred to the program for up to twenty days after the Notice of Trustee Sale (NOTS) was recorded. The referring housing counselor or attorney must screen the homeowner for eligibility.
  • Mediation fees are set at $400 for a session of one to three hours (including mediator’s preparation time) with an additional fourth hour charged at $130 if necessary. Payment of this fee is split equally between both parties.
  • Some lenders are exempt from mediation through the FFP. These are mainly smaller lenders such as many of the smaller credit unions. The Department of Commerce posts a list of exempt lenders for each year on its website; click here to see the list of exempt lenders for 2013.

Seattle Short Sales has a team of experienced and successful real estate specialists dedicated to working with distressed homeowners. We close, on average, 12% of all short sales per month in King County. In the last 24 months, we have negotiated over 756 short sale approvals, and discounted over $81 million of mortgage debt for distressed homeowners.

In addition to our short sales negotiators, our team includes dedicated professionals advising and advocating for homeowners in the fields of: loan modifications, bankruptcy, debt settlement and collection defense. As part of our service, we offer unlimited attorney and CPA consultations.

If you are a homeowner who is struggling to make ends meet, and would like to learn more about the options available to you, please go to: http://seattleshortsales.com/homeowners/

You can also contact Lambros Politis on Google+ or submit a contact request at Ark Law Group.


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