That question lies at the heart of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s proposal to require mediation before a family loses its home to foreclosure, recently passed by the City Council. If the city gets permission from the Legislature to start mandatory mediation, Boston will be on its way to preventing hundreds of avoidable foreclosures and the neighborhood deterioration that follows.
Nationally, roughly one in every seven households with a mortgage is behind on one or more mortgage payments. Moreover, with news of the “robo-signing’’ foreclosure petitions, the public has seen that lenders who were sloppy with paperwork when making the loans might be just as sloppy when calling the loans.
As a result, tens of millions of Americans are anxious about their home values; nearly 30 percent of homeowners with mortgages are drowning “underwater.’’ Even more worry about their ability to pay their mortgages. This is bad for everyone who wants the economy to recover, including those who are not in default, as home prices could plummet again while a cloud of uncertainty keeps the home-buying market perpetually overcast.