Washington State has a new program that helps certain homeowners avoid foreclosure by requiring their mortgage company to sit down with them and a mediator to discuss any potential ways to avoid foreclosure (such as mortgage modification). The program was created by Washington’s Foreclosure Fairness Act (RCW 61.24), which was signed into law in 2011. Under this new law, Washington now requires mortgage companies to notify homeowners of the availability of foreclosure counseling and the potential for foreclosure mediation, prior to initiating the foreclosure.
Generally, homeowners may elect pre-foreclosure mediation if:
- The home is owner occupied;
- The referral to mediation (in most cases) is made no later than 20 days after the Notice of Trustee’s Sale (nonjudicial foreclosure sale) is recorded with the county auditor;
- The type of foreclosure sought is a nonjudicial foreclosure (as opposed to a court-involved judicial foreclosure); and
- Your mortgage company has foreclosed more than 250 homes in the applicable previous one year period.
The foreclosure mediation program (RCW 61.24.163) is administered by the Washington Department of Commerce. Homeowners can be referred to the Department of Commerce for foreclosure mediation only by a housing counselor or an attorney. Free housing counseling is available to help homeowners understand their options and determine the best course of action. Contact a free housing counselor at 1-877-894-HOME (4663). Low to moderate income homeowners with foreclosure-related legal issues can also contact the statewide civil legal aid program at 1-800-606-4819 or visit www.nwjustice.org/get-legal-help.