Beginning this morning at 9:00 am, the Florida Hardest Hit program sprang back to life, accepting new applications for the federal principal reduction program that promises Florida home owners burdened with underwater mortgages a decrease of up to $50,000 in their mortgage loan balance.
That’s right: under the Florida Hardest Hit plan, Florida mortgages can be lowered by a tremendous amount of money to help people whose home loans are higher than the current real estate value of their home.
There’s around $350,000,000.00 available in the Florida Hardest Hit accounts to make this happen. Sounds like lots of money, doesn’t it?
September 2013: Florida Hardest Hit Program Debuts – Sounds Great
This new program debuted a couple of weeks ago, when the Florida Housing Finance Corporation announced that all the money sitting in the pot filled by federal funds tagged for foreclosure prevention would start being spent to help Floridians with mortgage balances much higher than their home’s value.
Sounded great, but there was a hitch: only qualified homeowners would be given this big break, and one of those qualifications is that they have to be current on their home loan. This isn’t a program to help people who are behind on their mortgages or who are negotiating against a bank foreclosure.
The Hardest Hit Fund sounds fantastic: mortgages can be as high as $350,000.00 to qualify. Higher incomes may still get qualified for the Hardest Hit Program funds. As long as you don’t sell the house in the following 5 years, you don’t have to repay this sum that’s been deducted from your mortgage principal — and if you decide to sell in later years, you’ll be asked to repay some of that deduction but not all of it (there’s a sliding scale, it goes down 20%/year). It costs zip to apply.
- Must be a Florida resident and a legal US resident/legal alien;
- Must occupy property as primary residence;
- Must be current on the monthly mortgage payment (cannot be 60 or more days late on the first mortgage within the past 24 months);
- The property must have been purchased prior to January 1, 2010;
- Must have an unpaid principal balance (UPB) that does not exceed $350,000 for the first mortgage;
- Loan-to-value for the first mortgage must be greater than 125%; and
- Total household income (including all persons living in the home age 18 years and older) must be less than 140% of the area median income (AMI) as provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Florida Hardest Hit Fund Crashes – Now It’s Open Again This Morning
Florida home owners are a smart and savvy bunch, and they know a good deal when they see one. So, when the applications were first accepted by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the agency had almost half of the total applications that can be processed (25,000) already on their desktops within a matter of hours.
Sure enough, the website crashed.
Today, October 1, 2013, the website is back up and open for business.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
The FHFC explained in its first announcement that they had $350 million ready to help qualified Florida homeowners resolve their problem with an underwater mortgage; however, even if their goal of 10,000 homeowners being helped here in Florida is reached, that’s just a drop in the proverbial ocean.
If the agency meets its goal, around 90% of Florida home owners will still be setting there, trying to find a solution to their quandary of having to pay a mortgage payment each month on a home that is appraised as much less than the home loan balance.
What’s happening here is that Florida’s Hardest Hit Program has taken action after federal questions started being asked about where the money was being spent, or if it was still sitting in state coffers long after the Hardest Hit funds had been distributed to Florida (among other states). The money has been there for over two years, and people like Senator Bill Nelson were wondering why three-quarters of the people applying for Hardest Hit help were getting denied.
Meantime, lots of Florida home owners that could have been helped already have had to move forward and face foreclosure, defending against it as best they could. This latest invitation to apply comes too late for lots of folk.
Bottom line, this multi-million dollar fund sounds wonderful and it has a great name — the Hardest Hit Fund — but the truth is that it’s not going to be much help to most Florida home owners who are dealing with underwater mortgages.
Florida home loans that are greater than Florida real estate values are the grim reality for many, many Florida homeowners today – and most of these mortgages will be negotiated directly with the lender, either through a loan modification, a short sale, or a foreclosure lawsuit.
And yes, for some people, they are going to pay their home loan till it’s paid off even if it bears no correlation to the current appraisal of their property – because for these people, it’s simply the right thing to do. It’s a matter of integrity for them – integrity: it’s something that lots of Florida mortgage lenders need to learn.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.