Broward County residents, like others throughout Florida and the southeastern United States, have been hit particularly hard during the Atlantic hurricane season of 2017. Those who own property in Florida, a recent report found, are now having difficulties with their mortgage payments.

Before Hurricane Irma, Florida was number 22 on the list of 50 states for borrowers who were not current on their mortgages. Today, the state is number 5 on the list. The number of borrowers behind on their mortgages by 30 days or more rose by almost 50 percent. The effect has been felt across the country — the national delinquent payment rate rose a few percentage points for the first time since 2010, an increase attributed primarily to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

One other statistic homeowners should note, however, is monthly foreclosure starts. Thanks to federal action taken to put a hold on banks pursuing foreclosure actions in affected areas, foreclosure starts are at their lowest since 2000. Florida residents in qualifying areas should be aware of this freeze and how it affects them if they are falling behind on their mortgage payments or are concerned about the risk of foreclosure.

The fact is, deadly hurricane or no, one can always try to fight back against a foreclosure. Hurricane or tropical storm damage may provide one potentially helpful avenue of defense against a foreclosure, but there are others available for borrowers in many different situations. And if nothing else, standing up to the banks can buy homeowners time to pursue options like a mortgage loan modification, which could bring payments back down to a manageable rate again and help avoid foreclosure entirely.

Source: Bloomberg, “Homeowners Hurt by Hurricanes Now Falling Behind on Mortgages,” Prashant Gopal, Oct. 19, 2017