While the sharp surge in foreclosure filings has gradually leveled off from the elevated levels following the 2008 financial crisis, courts continue to turn to mediation* programs to help resolve the foreclosure actions in a fair and efficient manner. The material on this page is meant to provide judges, court administrators and other stakeholders involved in administering foreclosure mediation programs a concise, authoritative set of research and resources to improve the operation of their programs.
Based on experience designing, administering and evaluating foreclosure mediation programs since 2013, we have developed a wealth of original research and resources on the subject of mortgage foreclosure mediation. We also combed through the tremendous volume of literature prepared by others on this topic, and curated what we believe to be the best resources.
*The term mediation here refers broadly to a set of conflict resolution processes that may deviate in their adherence to traditionally recognized principles of mediation. For instance, facilitating document exchange is a common component of foreclosure mediation programs that would be considered atypical of mediation in other settings. Effective foreclosure dispute system design, therefore, need not be bound by the traditional parameters of mediation practice.
As a part of our work developing and administering three foreclosure mediation programs, RSI developed the resources discussed below.
Saving Homes, Building Understanding: An Evaluation of the Eight Foreclosure Mediation Programs Funded by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General
In 2018, we published a comprehensive evaluation of the eightforeclosure mediation programs funded by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. The culmination of a five-year project, the evaluation describes differences in program models, what worked well for them and what challenges they faced.
For a brief overview of the evaluation and its most significant findings, please see the digital evaluation summary. For more detailed information, please see the Resource Center entry for the evaluation.
Sample Program Materials
In the course of administering three distinct mortgage foreclosure mediation programs, RSI has developed a number of materials to help homeowners better understand the process, as well as some original materials to assist the courts. These materials are offered here for court administrators to adapt for their programs.
- Sample Plaintiffs' Checklist Form
- Sample Monitoring Report
- Foreclosure Mediation Introductory Presentation [Video]
- Preparing a Loan Packet Workout Presentation [Video]
- Homeowner Post Cards
Prior to our work with Illinois' foreclosure mediation programs, we published several documents that looked at foreclosure mediation from varying perspectives. The following examples from those documents still provide insight.
This document summarizes best practices in foreclosure mediation programs. Though it initially was written to guide readers through setting up new programs, the document can also be used as a reminder of important elements to include in existing ones
This document addresses the most pressing questions program administrators have in creating their foreclosure mediation programs. This guide is a good place to start for administrators who have basic questions about starting a new program.
This document compiles and compares data about participation and outcomes in foreclosure dispute resolution programs across the country. Though the information is from 2012, the analysis of how different program structures can yield distinct results remains relevant today.
Heather Scheiwe Kulp and Jennifer Shack. Probate and Property, 2013
In this article, the authors look at what factors might influence the effectiveness of a particular program and identify four characteristics of successful programs. These were: having clear goals and objectives from the start, good document exchange management, active case management by the neutrals and the inclusion of supplemental services like housing counseling.
Heather Scheiwe Kulp and Jennifer Shack. Arkansas Law Review, 2013
In this article, the authors analyze foreclosure dispute resolution program variables to determine whether any factors indicate a program's efficacy. Calling for better, more standardized data collection and reporting, the authors make recommendations for improving foreclosure dispute resolution programs and outline best practices.
Multiple states also have created excellent documents to help courts manage their programs:
- Connecticut’s program evaluation provides a model for comparing mediated cases to those that were not mediated
- Philadelphia’s program, to which all eligible foreclosure cases are referred, was the first to complete a full evaluation [Full Report] [Summary Presentation].
- Ohio's 11-step program model can be of great use to courts developing programs no matter where they are.
- Nevada’s practical guide for working with interpreters can be adapted for use in other foreclosure mediation programs.
- Ohio’s comprehensive FAQ page for homeowners and mediators provides a good reference that could be emulated by other courts.
- Both Ohio and New Jersey have extensive online forms for their programs.