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Washington Governor Signs Act for Lender-Funded Mediation

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed the Foreclosure Fairness Act of 2011 into law Thursday. The new law goes into effect July 13.

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It gives homeowners facing foreclosure access to housing counselors, including meeting with the bank and an independent mediator to review options to keep their homes. Support for such mediation will be funded, at least in part, by lenders.

""Adding housing counselors and third-party mediation to the foreclosure process will level the playing field between homeowners and mortgage lenders,"" said ""state Rep. Tina Orwall"":http://www.housedemocrats.wa.gov/news/orwall%E2%80%99s-foreclosure-fairness-act-signed-into-law/ (D-Des Moines). ""Having the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with the bank will give struggling

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homeowners a real chance to work out the best possible outcome for their specific situation.""

Under the new law, banks will pay $250 into a fund every time they issue a new notice of default. The money will be used to train housing counselors and pay mediators.

""This bill will truly make a difference for thousands of homeowners in our state,"" said Marcy Bowers, interim director for the ""Statewide Poverty Action Network"":http://www.povertyaction.org/Home/index.cfm. ""Foreclosure mediation programs have been shown to be extremely effective in allowing families to save their homes.""

According to a statement from House Democrats, Washington currently holds the 11th highest foreclosure rate in the nation. The group says 77,000 families in the state have lost their homes to foreclosure over the last two years.

Washington is only the third non-judicial state to require third-party mediation of foreclosures â€" a fact Bruce Neas with ""Columbia Legal Services"":http://www.columbialegal.org/ says positions Washington as ""a leader"" among the 27 non-judicial foreclosure states with the passage ""this landmark legislation.""

""The unique approach of the Foreclosure Fairness Act, combining meaningful pre-foreclosure rights with a post-foreclosure right to third-party mediation, will help thousands of Washington homeowners save their homes,"" Neas said.

About Author: Heather Cernoch

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