More than a year after mediation became a required step, however, barriers including the impasse complaints and trouble contacting borrowers have limited the program's success.
A December report on seven of Florida's 20 circuit courts found just 6 percent of homeowners referred to mediation left the negotiating table with an agreement. One mediation management company says that agreement rate is lower than reality because of how mediations are tallied.Foreclosure mediators: Banks pushed us to fail Make big money in penny stocks today
The program has seen similar results in Palm Beach County. Between July and September, 1,949 foreclosures were referred to mediation. Of those, 152 mediations were conducted, with 27 ending in a written settlement.
"Settlement in these cases is not in the economic interest of the foreclosure law firms or servicers handling the foreclosures," said Boca Raton foreclosure defense attorney Ron Kaniuk of Ricardo, Wasylik & Kaniuk. "The law firms not only do the foreclosure work, they do the evictions and the bank-owned home sales and the title work, so if they modify a loan, if they come to a settlement and the foreclosure case ends, their work ends."