Updated November 16, 2015
In the wake of the housing crisis, courts increasingly turned and continue to turn to mediation* programs to help resolve the increased caseload of 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 the administration (and creation) of foreclosure mediation programs a concise, authoritative set of research and resources to improve the operation of their programs.
We have developed a wealth of original research and resources on the subject of mortgage foreclosure mediation. The bulk of our expertise derives from the foreclosure mediation programs that we have operated since 2013, and the research and evaluations we have produced leading up to and during the course of administering these programs. 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. This content was originally developed for this page near the onset of the foreclosure crisis and the ensuing litany of litigation. As foreclosure mediation programs spread throughout the country, the nature of the crisis evolved, and homeowners worked their way through the foreclosure process, we have updated this content in a way that reflects the current state of programs in this arena.
*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 example, Hawaii utilizes a process it has dubbed the “Mortgage Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Program,” or MFDR. This program exists outside of, but alongside, the state’s judicially-operated Foreclosure Mediation program, and employs neutrals to help facilitate the conversation between lenders and borrowers. However, the MFDR also gives neutrals the authority to make certain decisions that are considered outside the scope of a traditional mediation process, e.g. assessing whether either party failed to participate in accordance with the program requirements and should therefore be subject to a fine. Because the MFDR is not strictly speaking “mediation,” Hawaii distinguishes this program with the term “dispute resolution.” Effective foreclosure dispute system design need not be bound by the traditional parameters of mediation practice.
For those unfamiliar with the foreclosure mediation process, our primer is intended to provide a brief introduction. The other resources on this page demonstrate the sheer depth and nuance these programs entail, but it is worth highlighting a few of the common characteristics these programs share to offer an entry point to the uninitiated.
Illinois Foreclosure Studies by RSI
Six Programs, Six Models: An Evaluation of the Foreclosure Mediation Programs Funded by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General
In 2015, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the six foreclosure mediation programs funded by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. RSI developed this formative evaluation with the goal of presenting how the programs function, what is working well for them and what challenges they face so that the courts and programs can make informed changes, if needed.
- Full Report
- Executive Summary
- Jurisdiction-Specific Evaluations
6th Judicial Circuit
16th Judicial Circuit
17th Judicial Circuit
19th Judicial Circuit
20th Judicial Circuit
21st Judicial Circuit
- Press Release
Mediation Programs in Illinois – A Snapshot
RSI created a chart that summarizes all foreclosure mediation programs currently active in the state of Illinois. Click on the program name at the top of the chart for more specific details about a particular program.
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
- Homeowner Brochure
RSI’s Foundational Materials on Foreclosure Mediation
Throughout 2012 and 2013, we published several documents that looked at foreclosure mediation from varying perspectives. The following examples from those documents still provide insight.
- Foreclosure Mediation Best Practices
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
- Program Development Guide
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.
- Foreclosure Dispute Resolution by the Numbers
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.
- Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Programs: Do They Work?
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.
- A (Mortgage) Crisis in Communication: Foreclosure Dispute Resolution as Effective Response?
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] [Executive Summary].
- Ohio's 11-step program model can be of great use to courts developing programs no matter where they are.
- New Jersey's program description can be used by other jurisdictions as a model for similar documents.
- 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.