Read on to learn more about how Indiana’s mediation program works and how you can benefit from the process.
A foreclosure settlement conference is a meeting between the borrower and the lender’s representative. At the settlement conference, the parties discuss the borrower's financial situation and try to negotiate a way for the borrower to keep the home or give up the property without going through a foreclosure. By working together, the parties are often able to reach an agreement.
Potential outcomes of a settlement conference include:
Most residential homeowners in Indiana are eligible for a settlement conference, however you're not eligible if:
Indiana foreclosures are judicial, which means the lender must foreclose through the state court system. The lender initiates the foreclosure by filing a complaint and having it served on the borrower, along with a summons to appear in court. (To get a detailed description about the foreclosure process in Indiana, see Indiana Foreclosure Laws and Procedures.)
On the first page of the foreclosure summons, the lender must provide a notice to the borrower about the right to participate in a settlement conference.
The borrowers must notify the court no later than 30 days after the complaint and summons are served if they wish to participate in a settlement conference.
To request a conference, the borrower can:
If the borrowers contact the court indicating they would like to schedule a settlement conference, the court will then issue a notice of a settlement conference.
The notice will order the lender and the borrowers to conduct a settlement conference on or before a date and time specified in the notice for the purpose of attempting to negotiate a foreclosure prevention agreement.
An attorney for the lender must attend the settlement conference, and an authorized representative of the lender must be available by telephone.
The borrowers have the right to be represented by an attorney or assisted by a mortgage foreclosure counselor in person or by telephone. (To learn about getting free help from a foreclosure counselor, see Foreclosure Prevention Program in Indiana).
The next steps depend on whether you come to an agreement with the lender, or not.
What happens when an agreement is reached? If the lender and the borrowers agree to enter into a foreclosure prevention agreement, the agreement must be put in writing and signed by both parties, with each party retaining a copy. The lender must also file a copy of the signed agreement with the court.
The foreclosure will then be dismissed or postponed so long as the borrowers comply with the terms of the foreclosure prevention agreement.
What happens if an agreement isn't made? If the lender and the borrowers are unable reach an agreement, the lender must file a notice with the court indicating:
Even though participating in a settlement conference doesn't guarantee that a foreclosure will be avoided, it doesn't hurt to go to the conference. The lender may be more likely to agree to a nonforeclosure solution at a settlement conference than if you approach it outside of the program. Or you might qualify for a loss mitigation option that you hadn’t previously considered.
For more information on foreclosure prevention in Indiana, including settlement conferences, go to the Indiana Judicial Branch's "Help with Mortgage Foreclosures" website.
If you want to learn about potential defenses to foreclosure or want a lawyer to represent you at the settlement conference, talk to a foreclosure attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, you might qualify for free legal assistance from one of Indiana's pro bono programs. To find out about free legal assistance in Indiana, go to the "Can I Get An Attorney?" section of the Indiana Judicial Branch's "Help with Mortgage Foreclosures" website.