Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late #Foreclosures

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Baltimore - The Maryland Housing Counseling Network, Inc. has a consumer-friendly chart of the state's foreclosure process, outlining in a clear, easy-to-follow format what homeowners who are behind in their mortgage can expect from lenders and matching each step in that process with what homeowners can do to get help.
The chart helps illustrate the importance of seeking counseling through the state's MD HOPE Counseling Network as early in the process as possible; and of opting-in for foreclosure mediation through the Office of Administrative Hearings. Here's how.

Maryland was one of the first states to give homeowners that option, in the hopes of encouraging lenders to work with families to find sustainable alternatives to foreclosure.

However, it should be noted that the chart does not include early mediation, the newest step in the foreclosure process. Early mediation, which goes into effect Oct. 1, gives homeowners in financial trouble the option to seek mediation before lenders take them to court. The goal is to bring the parties to the negotiating table even earlier in the process, when more options may be available.

Early mediation was one of three key measures recommended by Governor O'Malley's foreclosure task force and passed this year by the legislature by wide bipartisan margin. The legislature also established a statewide foreclosed property database and a tax credit for families that buy a foreclosed property as their principal home.

Taken together, the measures reflect the Maryland Foreclosure Task Force's dual strategy for coping with what it called the "harsh reality" that the crisis will continue for some time - the new measures give beleaguered homeowners additional time to find alternatives to foreclosure and they give state and local governments new tools to help neighborhoods rebound from the blight of vacant and foreclosed properties.

The measures also build upon the sweeping reforms enacted under Governor O'Malley's leadership since 2007 in response to the most severe national housing crisis since the Great Depression. Maryland foreclosures peaked during the fourth quarter of 2009 and have been declining ever since. But foreclosures have inched up in recent months as lenders adjust to regulatory reform and the state's housing market gets stronger.

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