Foreclosure Law Could Lead to Mediation

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A new Nevada law requiring lenders to
meet with homeowners in danger of foreclosure is expected to create
numerous requests for mediation.

The Nevada Supreme Court, which is drawing up rules for the
mediation sessions, held the first of two public hearings on the
rules Tuesday. Chief Justice James Hardesty expects there will be
1,200 to 1,500 requests each month.

Under AB149, a homeowner who gets a foreclosure notice can
request a meeting with lenders and a trained mediator in efforts to
reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

During Tuesday's hearing, Justice Mark Gibbons said there are
different scenarios for every person who borrowed money and can't
make the house payment. He urged lenders to be flexible and make
the mediation process a success.

Steven Primak, a Las Vegas attorney, asked if there would be any
assistance for homeowners who got notices before July 1, when the
new law takes effect, but Hardesty said the law doesn't apply to
existing foreclosures.

However, Hardesty also said that once mediators catch up with
the expected load the court may take steps to start a voluntary
mediation process for those who got notices before July 1.

Under the proposed rules, homeowners and lenders will share the
costs of the mediators with a maximum $200 assessed to each party.

The next public hearing is June 26 in Las Vegas. The court
expects to adopt the rules June 29 and the first mediation sessions
probably will be in August.

The court is going to base the program in Las Vegas. The first
mediation sessions will be conducted by senior judges and Supreme
Court settlement judges. More than 350 lawyers have expressed
interest in serving as mediators but will be required to have
training, Hardesty said.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, the primary
sponsor of AB149, has said Nevada has the highest foreclosure rate
in the nation, which has caused home values throughout the state to
plummet.


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