Few Ohio Homeowners Seek Help to Avoid Bank Foreclosure Home

by Peter Vernon on Stop Foreclosures

The Montgomery County Common Pleas Court in Ohio has been criticized for neglecting to use court-ordered mediation option to help distressed homeowners protect their properties from becoming bank foreclosure home.

Since the start of this year, only about 20 distressed homeowners who were at risk of losing their homes to foreclosures have chosen mediation option ordered by judges. The figures are a small fraction of the nearly 3,000 repossessions filed in Montgomery County this year.

According to fair housing advocates, other counties including Franklin have been more aggressive in promoting mediation as a way to avoid foreclosure and help homeowners remain in their homes.

Miami Valley Fair Housing attorney Randall J. Smith said that it is imperative that the county explore how Franklin County implements the mediation program and how it becomes a success, adding that both counties have comparable foreclosure rates.

Meanwhile, judges and lawyers are blaming ignorance of consumers about their legal options, lack of funds for legal help, overburdened court system and homeowners’ resignation to their condition for the low participation numbers in the county’s mediation program.

Montgomery County Administrative Judge Michael T. Hall said that if he thought that there was a remotest chance for some resolution, he would order it. Counties in Ohio are being pressured by state housing advocates and the Supreme Court to push the mediation program or a managed settlement with lenders if there is a chance that homeowners could be saved from foreclosures.

As of June, Franklin County posted 870 mediation applications from troubled borrowers. Out of these figures, 290 were referred by judges and 80 percent are on the mediation process. Industry experts said that homeowners who do not participate in the mediation program are those who have moved out from their houses and are not aware of their rights.

Meanwhile, the attorney general’s office in Ohio was not surprised that only 10 percent of those eligible homeowners at risk of foreclosures were able to receive help in modifying their loans.

Assistant attorney general Bob Hart said that the office has been urging mortgage servicers since 2007 to increase the number of their staffs who will handle the anticipated surge in foreclosure cases.

But industry experts said that even if mortgage servicers are willing to modify a loan, the process is so difficult and complex that delays are inevitable.