Nevada swears in legion of foreclosure mediators

Chris Rizo Dec. 12, 2009, 1:28am

James Hardesty

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline)- The Nevada Supreme Court chief justice on Friday swore in 75 more mediators to the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program.

The new group of mediators brings the statewide total to 170.

The aim of mediators is to help lenders and struggling homebuyers reach settlements to keep people in their homes. The Silver State has the nation's highest rate of home foreclosures.

Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty swore in mediators by videoconference in courtrooms in Carson City and Las Vegas.

"The addition of new mediators will greatly expand the program's capability to help both homeowners and lenders resolve their mutual dilemma," Hardesty said in a statement.

Nevada law specifies that mediations should be conducted within 90 days of a notice of default being recorded on an owner-occupied residential property.

"The program is coming up to speed, with the number of cases ready for mediation increasing dramatically in the last few weeks," said Program Manager Verise Campbell. "Having additional mediators will make the process much more efficient."

The state's new Foreclosure Mediation Program began with 95 mediators in July.

About 500 cases have been heard through the program, with another 1,064 scheduled. In all, the program has received nearly 3,300 requests from struggling homeowners. To be eligible for the mediation program, Nevada residents must have received a default notice on or after July 1.

The program has emerged as a national model. Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, testified last month before California lawmakers about the mediation program.

In the Golden State, Pedro Nava, a state assemblyman and Democratic candidate for attorney general, has introduced legislation to allow homeowners who have been served a notice of default to enlist the help of a state-appointed monitor to negotiate lenders with the goal of lowering monthly payments.

Nava, D-Santa Barbara, is chairman of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. His proposal is outlined in Assembly Bill 1588.

"This crisis has devastated thousands of California families and communities. It's time to take a new approach to help families remain in their homes," Nava said last month, adding that existing loan modification programs have been "ineffective and the number of families benefiting from them is minimal."

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