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Some Floridians finally able to receive some mortgage relief

After suffering for years during the recession and housing crisis, there may finally be a way for homeowners facing foreclosure to get some much-needed -- and long-awaited -- help for their underwater homes. Florida is one of the states suffering the worst of the national housing market crash, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now offering some solutions to help many of the millions of struggling homeowners in the U.S.

Previously, most of the help for homeowners in trouble focused on people who were behind on their mortgage payments and foreclosure was near. It was even more difficult for those who couldn't get out of their houses because they couldn't sell them for the amount they owed. But starting in March, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow homeowners with financial challenges to apply for a deed-in-lieu transaction.

This option should allow those approved to discharge their shortfall between what their homes are worth and what is still owed when those homes are sold for less than their outstanding debt. To qualify, non-delinquent borrowers must show that they need to move for a job change, illness or other vital reason. This is great news for many people who can't afford their homes who in the past have had few options but bankruptcy or repossession.

While Florida still has more than 7 million properties underwater, this is a good time for homeowners to decide if this new option is the right one for them. Since many processes involving foreclosure and mortgage lenders can be complicated, it might be a good idea to speak with a bankruptcy attorney about the options available for mortgage relief.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Mortgage help at last," Feb. 1, 2013

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