Philly Helps Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

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It doesn't hurt to ask. That's the lesson learned from a new program in Philadelphia which is helping homeowners stay in their foreclosed property. The initiative is working so well that it's getting praise for being better than the Obama administration's $75 million program and being considered as a model for other states facing high foreclosure rates.

According to The New York Times, the program involves what's known as a "conciliation conference," or a "face-to-face meeting between the homeowner and the lender aimed at striking a workable compromise." So basically, you and your court appointed lawyer get some facetime to beg for mercy. And it seems to be working.

With all the foreclosures sweeping the nation, banks have more than they can handle. They'd rather have you stay and pay your mortgage, even if it means negotiating lower payments.

One man cited in the article, an out-of-work roofer, managed to stay in his home, the only one he's ever lived in. According to the rules adopted by Philadelphia's civil court, no owner-occupied house can be foreclosed on and sold by the sheriff's office before a face-to-face meeting between the homeowner and lender. And those homeowners faced with default filing are provided with counseling and sometimes legal representation.

In the case of the roofer, the bank gave him six more weeks in his home, during which time his housing counselor would try to negotiate lower payments for him.

Finally some good news on the foreclosure front. The Philly program has been working so well that Chicago, Pittsburgh and Louisville have adopted similar methods. Now can we just get this in Detroit...
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