Alfred Abel, Esq. was recently recognized for his key role serving as a volunteer master in the Montgomery County Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. This free program was established by the Court of Common Pleas and is led by a team of appointed masters who are attorneys who act as mortgage foreclosure mediators. As a master, Alfred Abel presides over conciliation conferences and facilitates resolutions between lenders and homeowners with delinquent accounts.
Mr. Abel is seeing first-hand how the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program is making a difference in the lives of Montgomery County participants. This program is providing opportunities for homeowners to save their homes and explore alternatives to foreclosure through court intervention. In just the past two years, 32.55% of eligible homeowners facing foreclosure actions have reached non-judicial resolution and avoided eviction from their home through forced sheriff sales.
Eligibility for the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program
In order to participate in the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, the following requirements must be met:
• Homeowners must own property that is the subject of residential foreclosure filed in Montgomery County.
• The outstanding balance of the mortgage (the judgment sought) must be $300,000 or less.
• Homeowners are required to reside on the property.
• Property may not be the subject of bankruptcy, estate or divorce proceedings.
• No income restrictions must be met to participate in the program.
How the Foreclosure Diversion Program Works
Once a foreclosure complaint is filed with the court, a mandatory conciliation conference is scheduled. This mandatory conciliation conference provides an automatic stay of the foreclosure proceeding and allows the homeowner 30 to 45 days to utilize the free housing counseling services with Clarifi, a HUD-approved consumer credit counseling agency. During housing counseling sessions, homeowners can explore the alternatives to foreclosure that best meet their needs and financial situations and determine whether a loan workout is possible with the lender. Armed with the homeowners’ financial information, the housing counselor will prepare a proposal to resolve the mortgage default, which is then sent to the lender and the attorneys representing the lender.
On the day of the mandatory conciliation conference, the homeowners and lenders appear at court to discuss the proposal, determine if a loan workout is possible, and work together to reach a resolution. A volunteer master presides over the conciliation conferences where they work to facilitate a non-judicial resolution. Non-judicial resolutions could be any one of the following: loan modification, repayment schedule, approved short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or reinstatement. If resolution is reached, the master prepares the recommended order and submits the order to the presiding judge for signature.