On October 10, 2013, Attorney Bopp Stark was invited by Attorney General Janet Mills to participate in a panel as a representative for homeowners in a discussion about the Maine judicial foreclosure process. Others on the panel were leaders representing mediators, housing counselors, realtors and financial institutions including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, local credit unions and Maine banks. The panel convened for over three hours during which the representatives provided their opinions on foreclosure issues and members of the public, including consumer and financial institution advocates, provided testimony regarding their experiences with the system.
Bopp Stark voiced support for the current foreclosure mediation program that allows homeowners to speak with a representative from their lender and discuss workout options that are available to avoid foreclosure. She also voiced significant concern regarding different treatment for Maine banks and credit unions. A proposal was raised to exempt local banks and credit unions from the mediation process. However, as Bopp Stark stated, taking the discussion outside the court system takes away the judicial safeguards that would ensure the banks and credit unions participate in a good faith discussion of foreclosure prevention options.
Part of the discussion also focused on the larger banks’ inability to process loan modification applications in a timely manner. The Wells Fargo representative discussed a new program in 2014 whereby a single point of contact will be assigned for Maine mediations. Bopp Stark highlighted the immediate need for available, knowledgeable contacts for all lenders and servicers participating in mediation as well as regular communication regarding documents received and needed to process applications. Bopp Stark also advocated for a private legal right of action for homeowners to hold servicers liable for their inability to process applications timely and adequately.
Another panel will convene in Augusta November 14th, from 3 to 6 pm in a legislative committee room in the Cross State Office Building. Bopp Stark has been invited to participate in that panel as well.