Philadelphia court postpones sheriff's property sales

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Dec 4, 2011

Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe issued an order Dec. 1 postponing hundreds of sheriff's sales of properties for which the mortgages have been foreclosed.

The order is in conjunction with the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program established by Joint General Court Regulation 2008-1.

Properties for which mortgages are held by financial institutions as diverse as Wells Fargo and Deutsche National to Aurora Loan Services are going through a “conciliation conference” phase which has not been concluded. They were all scheduled to be sold Dec. 6 by the Philadelphia Sheriff's Department in payment of the mortgage debt. But because the conference has not been concluded the court ordered the sheriff's sale postponed. The court may also order a postponement of sale even in cases where the conference has been concluded.

The City of Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention program is a program that helps families whose homes are being foreclosed. The program was initiated in April 2008 by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and local housing advocates. It was supported from the City of Philadelphia and the County Sheriff’s Office.

The program works by postponing sheriff sales for all owner-occupied residences until the homeowner has had an opportunity to meet with a housing counselor and explore viable alternatives to foreclosure. This program has already prevented evictions and kept many Philadelphia homeowners in their homes.

The Conciliation Conference is a special court hearing where proposals to cure the mortgage default are presented to the lender’s attorney and a judge pro tem. The homeowner is represented by a housing counselor and if available a pro-bono attorney. Lenders may agree to loan modifications or the mortgage may be purchased and restructured under the Homeowners’ Equity Recovery Opportunity (HERO) Loan Program.

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