Sixth Stage: The Settlement Conference
Scheduling a ‘Settlement Conference’ is the next step in the process. A Settlement Conference is designed to provide the homeowner with the opportunity to work together with the Bank; to arrive at an agreed solution as an alternative to foreclosure. It’s like a safety zone for homeowners, because while you’re in the Settlement Conference phase of this process the foreclosure is basically ‘frozen’ in the Court system.
Typically, a few weeks from receiving the Summons and Complaint, you should receive a letter from the Court advising the date, time, and place for the Settlement Conference.
Should you fail to turn up to your first scheduled Settlement Conference without prior advice to the Court, this stage of the foreclosure may be declared over, and the foreclosure will go ahead. So, if you can’t attend the Settlement Conference, you must contact the Court to reschedule this process. As a homeowner you can appear at your Settlement Conference with or without an attorney: if you choose to appear without an attorney, this is known as appearing ‘pro se’. On the other hand, the Bank must have a representative, and this will typically be the Bank’s attorney.
At this conference you’ll describe your situation, and the Court will probably ask questions regarding your finances, debts, income, and whether you have any savings. The Bank will provide information on how much you owe the Bank and how this has been calculated. There are no witnesses, and no testimony: this is an opportunity for both parties to ask questions and explore possible solutions. It’s likely that the Bank will provide the homeowner with forms to be completed and returned to them, in order to determine if a ‘loan modification’ might be in order. These forms are designed to provide the Bank with a clear picture of your current financial status. So, they’ll ask about your income and your expenses. Some of these forms are used by all Banks as required by Federal law, and others will be specific to your Bank. You’ll probably be asked to provide copies of income taxes and recent bank statements. It’s not common for a homeowner and Bank to come to an agreement at the initial Settlement Conference: you’ll probably find that the Court will set up another Conference for you.
If you’re going through the Foreclosure process, you understand only too well that this whole scenario can be very confusing and upsetting. But, you don’t have to go through this alone! George Russo and Associates is your local, experienced law firm, and we’re here to help you. Contact us right now and we can ensure you’re very clear on your legal position before taking any action.