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HARP was revised this week by the federal government in the hopes that up to 1 million Americans with underwater mortgages can get refinancing through a program overseen by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Expanding HARP is a big deal; President Obama held a news conference this week over in Vegas to give the details.   What is happening?  The feds are taking away the limit on refinancing home loans thru HARP, which had limited access to the program to mortgages that were higher than 125% of the home’s market value.

Before, if you were less than 125% underwater, then the fed program HARP wasn’t available to you.  Now, it might be.

However, it is estimated that there are over 11,000,000 mortgages right now that exceed the market value of the home, i.e., are “underwater.”  Adding to the current HARP program with some financing changes will, with 100% success of its projections, only help 10% of those with underwater mortgages in this country right now.

Florida’s Fight Against Foreclosure Crisis This Week:  the Florida Supreme Court Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation Report Is Released.

At the state level of government, the results are in from the panel that was reviewing Florida’s mandatory mediation program for residential foreclosure cases (see last week’s post for details):  the Florida Supreme Court’s investigatory report is in, and in a surprise to no one at all, it’s reporting that the program is a huge failure and needs to be scrapped or extensively overhauled.

The Florida Supreme Court has published this report online, where you can read it for free (in pdf format).  Two key suggestions to the Florida Supreme Court from the panel (headed by the Honorable William Palmer of the Second District Court of Appeal):

  • nix the requirement that every residential mortgage foreclosure be mediated; and
  • give the various circuit court judges some leeway in dealing with their dockets and cases – no more one size fits all.

How is this helping South Florida mortgage home owners who are underwater?  For many Florida home owners with underwater mortgages, this news is no news because it is not going to change their situation one bit.  Not one bit.

Right now, the best place for an individual homeowner with an underwater mortgage to get relief is in his/her own fight, with his/her own lawyer, one on one with the bank and their lawyer on the other side of the table.    Underwater mortgages and strategic defaults have big consequences, including the very real possibility of a deficiency judgment. Unfortunately, nothing much has changed so far in the options available to Florida homeowners.

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