Florida's housing market has been particularly difficult, with the highest foreclosure rates in the country. However, there's still hope for people trying to hold onto their homes, avoid bankruptcy, or get into a new home. A few helpful tips make it possible for homeowners to benefit.
Florida has the nation's highest foreclosure rate. A proposed bill, if passed, would speed the backlog of pending foreclosures through the process a bit faster. The controversial bill originally made it to the Florida House last year, when struggling homeowners attempting to stop foreclosure protested against it. The revised bill is a more moderate version that may speed up some home repossessions from sitting in limbo for two or more years, the current average for foreclosures in Florida.
Homes sales across Florida are starting to pick up and prices are slowly rising, but research firms RealtyTrac and CoreLogic warn consumers that signs show the housing market may still be a long way from recovering completely. Florida led the nation for the highest foreclosure rate last year. Almost 280,000 homes in the state faced some sort of foreclosure action. These numbers are a disheartening 50 percent over the amount of foreclosures in the state in 2011.
The federal government has announced a settlement with major banks to compensate many consumers who have had their homes wrongfully foreclosed upon. The banks are to pay $8.5 billion to millions of homeowners, who lost their homes due to questionable practices, such as skipping required foreclosure steps and mishandling paperwork. This can greatly impact many consumers in Florida, which was one of the states hit the hardest by the housing market crash.
The current housing crisis is making foreclosure activity in Florida among the worst in the country. Record amount of families are losing their homes or facing bankruptcy. Sadly, among the most vulnerable to losing their family homes are widows, due to lenders' refusal to negotiate terms they can work with.
Almost a year ago, the nation's five largest banks entered into a $26 billion settlement agreement with 49 state attorneys general after being accused of improper foreclosure practices such as "robo-signing". But the lenders -- including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup -- aren't off the hook yet.
Oftentimes clients receive a foreclosure summons after they receive a bankruptcy discharge. They often contact my office and inquire about what it means and whether they need to respond. I respond by stating a bankrutpcy discharge prevents the mortgage holder from pursuing a debtor for any money. However, mortgage holders will foreclosure in order to take back ownership of the property by foreclosing the debtors and any junior lienholder's interest in the property. A foreclosure will allow them to own it and resell it. But a debtor who has received a discharge under chapter 7 or in a chapter 13 where the property was surrendered in the plan need not worry about having the mortgage holder coming after them to pursue a deficiency. The bankruptcy discharge protects them.