Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Lawmakers target foreclosures in package of bills

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Barbara Buckley

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley and other Democratic lawmakers unveiled a package of legislation intended to help stem the foreclosure crisis.

Buckley's bill would require lenders to offer to negotiate mortgages with borrowers who face foreclosure. Assembly Bill 149 would also bring in a district court judge, justice of the peace, retired judge or other member of the judiciary to mediate if a homeowner requests it.

Buckley's bill got wide support during testimony before a joint meeting of the Assembly and Senate commerce committees, from Realtors and credit counseling services to banks.

Buckley said borrowers getting foreclosure notices often can't reach lenders, or the lenders are unwilling to negotiate to prevent a foreclosure.

The bill would set up rules for owner-occupied homes to be informed of their ability to negotiate. If the homeowners don't respond, nothing happens, and the home goes into foreclosure.

But if homeowners want, they will go into a negotiation, in which a trained mediator would work on a compromise between homeowner and lender.

Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, said that under normal circumstances, he would not become involved with the issue. "In the past, it would've been easy in past sessions not to participate on something like this," he said. "These are not normal times."

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty testified that while the court system was already stretched, he recognized that addressing the issue was critical.

"I don’t want anyone to get the impression we have a whole lot of time," Hardesty testified. "We recognize the importance of this issue to the citizens of this state. This is an all hands on deck."

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill that would require titles to be trasferred more quickly after a foreclosure.

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill that would require a "loan modification consultant" or "foreclosure consultant" to be licensed as a mortgage broker or agent.

Conklin, who chaired the meeting, said other bills related to foreclsure, such as protecting renters from surprise evictions because of foreclosures, are set to be discussed later in the session.

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