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State programs may help South Florida borrowers

Our South Florida readers have probably seen a lot of the proposals batted around in the news about the best ways to help homeowners who are struggling to make their monthly payments. Previous posts here have detailed the historic $25 billion settlement between the majority of states and some of the biggest lenders in the country, with much of that money to be designated for homeowner relief. And, many of our readers keep up with the news out of Washington, D.C., and the Federal Reserve, where interest rates are being kept at an all-time low in part to help stimulate mortgage lending. However, some may not have heard about the Hardest Hit Fund, right here in Florida.

According to some reports, if someone hasn't heard about this fund, it may be because the requirements to qualify for relief are too restrictive. The program was started in 2010, with the intent to help homeowners who were either unemployed or underemployed. Apparently, the original thought was that the fund would assist almost 40,000 homeowners. However, critics say that only 8,100 have received assistance in the two years the program has been in operation.

Further, it appears that the Hardest Hit Fund isn't the only state program that is going to be taking on the continuing housing problems in Florida. One report indicated that the state is in the planning stages of launching a program to assist homeowners who are "underwater" on their homes - owing more than the homes are worth. The funds earmarked for this program appear to be designated for reducing mortgage principal amounts.

When a South Florida resident is facing fears of foreclosure or delinquent payments, any option probably looks enticing. But, one other option property owners may be able to consider is a mortgage loan modification, in which banks themselves agree to change the terms of a mortgage. When considering all of the options available to help make that mortgage payment, South Florida residents may be wise to get more information about the possibility of modifications to their mortgage plan.

Source: SunSentinel.com, "State housing agency slow to offer help, detractors say," Paul Owers, Dec. 13, 2012

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