Foreclosure Diversion Program
Foreclosure mediation is a meeting between a homeowner and a lender with a neutral mediator. The mediator helps the parties talk about how they might settle their case. In mediation, the parties decide the outcome of the case instead of putting it in the hands of a judge.
Benefits of mediation in a foreclosure
Parties have a chance to talk with each other in an informal setting with the help of a mediator. Both sides share an interest in keeping the homeowner in the home and paying the mortgage.
A long-term benefit of mediation is improved communication between the parties. Mediation gives the homeowner and lender the chance to talk about how to meet their shared goals. The mediator can help focus the conversation and raise options the parties may not have thought of or known about.
Since the foreclosure mediation program began in 2010, approximately 60% of cases mediated have been dismissed (ended without a foreclosure).
If you are a homeowner who lives in a 1-4 unit property that is being foreclosed, you have the right to request mediation. Second homes, vacation property, and commercial property are not eligible for mediation.
How to request mediation
Complete and return the Response to Complaint and Request for Mediation form included with the foreclosure court papers or send a written request to the clerk's office where your case is being handled. Request mediation within 20 days of receiving the court papers. Even if you miss this deadline, it is worth contacting the clerk and sending the court something in writing because you might still be able to participate. Please do not ignore the court papers.
Attending an Informational Session and mediation
If you ask for mediation in writing by the deadline, the court clerk will schedule you to attend an Informational Session with other homeowners. Your first mediation session at court will be scheduled for that same day ("First Call Day"). You and the lender will receive the notice by mail.
Please note: the courthouse where the Informational Session and mediation will be held may be different from the court where the foreclosure case was filed. The courthouse location will be printed on the scheduling notice. See Find a Court to locate a court.
Arrive at the courthouse a few minutes before the Informational Session begins to get settled and to make sure the court knows you are present. The court clerk will give homeowners a short form to fill out— Defendant's Foreclosure Mediation Information (FDP-02B). You will learn from a judge about the general process in a foreclosure case. A HUD-certified housing counselor will talk about how to work with your lender. These presentations might be by video.
After the Informational Session, individual mediation sessions begin. Homeowners wait their turn to meet with lenders one-on-one. You may want to bring a snack or water for the waiting period. Depending upon the number of cases scheduled that day, you may be at the courthouse for up to half a day.
In mediation, you will share your goals for the property, ask questions, and talk about your situation. The lender will provide information on the status of the loan. You and the lender will discuss whether options other than foreclosure are available and what documents will need to be submitted.
The mediator will help you and your lender come up with a specific plan to resolve the case, if possible. The mediator does not take sides or decide how the case should be resolved. At the end of each mediation session, the mediator writes a clear report on agreed next steps and deadlines. The first mediation session generally lasts 30-45 minutes. Additional sessions are scheduled if needed. Learn more about mediation.
Homeowner preparation for mediation
Before the Informational Session and mediation, think about your goals for the property. Do you want to stay in the home or move out? What is the market value of the property? How much do you owe?
Some alternatives to foreclosure that you may want to explore in mediation include:
- Permanent "loan modification;"
- Temporary or short-term "forbearance agreement and repayment plan;"
- Giving the lender a "deed in lieu of foreclosure;" or
- Having the lender approve a "short sale" of the home.
See Terms that may come up in your mediation for definitions of these and other terms.
Before agreeing to any specific approach, talk with a HUD-certified housing counselor. This is a free service to help you assess your financial situation. The housing counselor will offer specific suggestions on what options you may have to avoid foreclosure. A housing counselor will be present at your Informational Session, but you may want to contact a counselor before the Informational Session. Find HUD-approved Housing Counseling Resources in Maine.
You may also want to talk with a lawyer with experience in real estate foreclosure law. A lawyer can provide information on the legal process specific to your situation, help identify legal defenses you may have in the court case, and help you weigh options.
You do not need a lawyer to go to mediation, but if you are represented by a lawyer, your lawyer must attend the session. See Get Legal Help for options for talking with a lawyer.
You are not required to bring paperwork to the first mediation session, but you may want to begin gathering some of the following to get ready to work with your housing counselor or lawyer:
- Any correspondence from the lender or mortgage servicer or its lawyer, even if the correspondence is unopened;
- Court papers (foreclosure complaint, copy of your response, etc.);
- Recent pay stubs or other source of income;
- Last two months' bank statements; and
- Last year's tax return.
If you are unable to attend your scheduled informational session
If you cannot attend First Call Day on the date scheduled, you must ask the court to re-schedule ("continue") your session for another date. Your request must be in writing. Send your request to the court (with a copy to the lender) as soon as you can. See Motion to Continue Mediation in Foreclosure Action (FDP-04).
If you made an agreement to settle the case in mediation, the mediator will submit a report to the court describing the steps to close the case. You may need to send in more paperwork. When all the steps are completed and your case is settled, you and the lender will need to notify the court in writing. The case will then be over.
If you are not able to reach a final agreement in mediation but wish to continue to try to agree on a possible alternative to foreclosure with the lender, you may ask the court to "stay" the case (pause the case) for a period of time. If you and the lender agree on this, both of you will submit a Joint Motion to Stay Foreclosure Action Following Mediation (FDP-10).
If you are not able to reach an agreement in mediation and have no immediate plan to keep working together with the lender, the case is generally "returned to the docket" (put back on the court's schedule) and moves forward. However, you and the lender can try to settle the case at any point in the process, even up to and at trial. See Foreclosure Step by Step for more information on the foreclosure court process.
For general questions about mediation in foreclosure cases:
Maine Foreclosure Diversion Program
Laura Pearlman, Esq., Manager
Telephone: (207) 822-0706
Administrative Office of the Courts
P.O. Box 4820
Portland, ME 04122-4820