Foreclosure Mediation in Cook County

Legal Help in the Wake of the Housing Crisis

Are you a do-it-yourself homeowner seeking mortgage assistance?

Cook County homeowners representing themselves in foreclosure actions can take advantage of court-annexed mediation programs, which grew out of the astronomical number of foreclosure actions filed since the start of the housing crisis.

Helping to divert eligible cases away from overburdened courts, mediation is available to homeowners in Cook County, Will County, and other locations in the state of Illinois.

Mediation: A Voluntary Process

As a homeowner, you don't have to participate, but if you choose to, the Illinois Supreme Court requires the mortgage company to participate in good faith. If it doesn't, foreclosure is likely to be delayed.

The first step of the mediation process in most counties, including Cook County and Will County, is a review of the case. This review is done by a judge, attorney, or case manager, who will determine whether mediation is a good fit.

What You Should Expect

A major factor in mediation is whether or not you can afford the mortgage payment, so the process will involve a review of your monthly income and household expenses. But even if you can afford the mortgage, the mediation program is not a cure-all.

In the two years since the Cook County mediation program began, it has dealt with less than 3,000 cases. But roughly 78,000 mortgage actions were pending in February of this year alone. And less than half of homeowners who participated in mediation walked away with a permanent mortgage loan modification.

Plus, given the current backlog, the 12-week timeline as specified under Illinois law is taking up to six months in some cases.

The Negatives

What might be the cause of this relative lack of success?

It's the lack of equal footing.

The mortgage company must do most of the bending in mediation. It must agree to the terms. As of this moment, unfortunately, mediators have no legal power to force the mortgage company to do more than the bare minimum in regard to the foreclosure action.

The Positives

Foreclosure mediation gives you the opportunity to speak with a representative of the mortgage company. You get, in effect, that person's undivided attention, which may have been hard to come by prior to mediation. And this mortgage company representative actually has the authority to make a decision.

In the long run, foreclosure mediation might not be the best solution to save your home against foreclosure, but it might be worth a shot.