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Updated Nevada Law Helps Distressed Homeowners

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PHOTO: Nevadans struggling to stay in their homes may have an easier go of it, thanks to the Legislature's update of the Foreclosure Mediation Program. Photo courtesy of the office of Congressman Matt Cartwright.
PHOTO: Nevadans struggling to stay in their homes may have an easier go of it, thanks to the Legislature's update of the Foreclosure Mediation Program. Photo courtesy of the office of Congressman Matt Cartwright.
July 7, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. – A successful update to Nevada's Foreclosure Mediation Program, which gives distressed homeowners an option supporters say could dramatically reduce the number of foreclosures in the state, was part of this year's legislative session.

Venicia Considine, a consumer rights attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, works with underwater homeowners. She says the Foreclosure Mediation Program allows, for the first time, a mechanism for troubled homeowners to get help before they enter foreclosure.

"Those people that are getting close to that default, or who know that they're not going to be able to sustain those payments, can now get into the existing program without having to go completely broke doing it," she says, "It is a significant difference."

Considine says homeowners who can prove they are likely to default on their mortgage are eligible for the program, which requires lenders to negotiate a possible loan modification in good faith. Before that change, homeowners could not get help until after they defaulted on their mortgage.

Despite reports of an economic recovery, RealtyTrac notes that in a recent month, Nevada had the nation's second-highest foreclosure rate. Considine says she is hopeful the updated program will help reduce foreclosures.

"It keeps somebody who can afford to make mortgage payments in the house, and it keeps the lenders receiving mortgage payments," she says. "So neither party has to go through that foreclosure process."

RealtyTrac reported 127,000 foreclosures nationwide in May, reflecting a one-percent increase from the previous month, a 16-percent jump from May 2014, and a 19-month high.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV