Borrowers in South Florida could get mortgage loan reductions

Written By: Emil FleysherJuly 29, 2016

Nearly 1,500 South Florida borrowers may be eligible for reductions of their outstanding mortgage loan balances under a federal program announced in April. The intention of the program is to help "underwater" and severely delinquent borrowers. That is delinquents whose loans are owned or guaranteed by mortgage companies Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Who Qualifies?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, said more than 30,000 borrowers coast-to-coast could qualify. Florida has 6,260 possibly eligible borrowers; leading number of any state, according to FHFA. The tri-county region of Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties has 1,487 homeowners who could qualify, fourth-most among metro areas after New York (4,164), Philadelphia (2,436), and Chicago (2,311).

To be suitable for the program, a borrower must reside in the home. And, they must be 90 or more days past-due as of March 1, 2016. And, they must have an unpaid balance of $250,000 or less. For a thorough list of eligibility requirements or for more information, visit or send an email to

How Much Can You Save Off?

Representatives for the program could not specify how much buyers could expect to save off of their principal. The amount depends on the value of their property. And, the area of the country. "The national housing market has significantly improved in recent years, but there are still areas of the country where home values have not recovered and [underwater mortgages remain] a real problem," FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt said in April.

Watt also stated that the plan "will no doubt be viewed by some as too small and too late and viewed by others as too large and unnecessary.“ Still, he said the program is warranted. This is because it will help proprietors avoid foreclosure. Additionally, it will not have a negative financial impact on Fannie and Freddie.

"There is still a significant number of folks who are saying, 'I owe $450,000, my house is worth $400,000, why am I still making the payments?'" said Ken Johnson, an economist and real estate professor at Florida Atlantic University. "This program is a very good thing, even if it hits only a fraction of the market." FHFA said distinct mortgage companies should be reaching out to possibly eligible borrowers for a so-called Streamlined Modification.

Therefore, that will momentarily stop any foreclosure proceedings. And, it will allow borrowers who think they may qualify for a principal reduction to start making reduced monthly payments. However, accepting the modification doesn't guarantee a homeowner will get a mortgage principal reduction, FHFA said. In fact, lenders are projected to make all principal reduction offers by Dec. 31. Homeowners who think they are eligible should contact their mortgage companies directly, FHFA said.

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