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MIAMI – Sept. 11, 2012 – More than 1,000 Florida homeowners have seen an average debt reduction of $114,015 on their primary mortgage since the February approval of the settlement between leading lenders and state attorneys general.
The hefty discount meant to save struggling borrowers from foreclosure was mentioned by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in remarks Monday previewing his appearance today at Florida Housing Coalition’s annual conference in Orlando.
Nearly 500 Florida homeowners have seen an average of $65,896 in second mortgage debt disappear as a result of the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement, according to a progress report released last week.
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Donovan said about one in six of homeowners nationwide who have benefitted from the settlement live in Florida.
“We require the lenders when they are doing principal reductions to create a payment and a situation for homeowners that will ensure they will be able to stay in their homes,” said Donovan, who praised Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for her work on the settlement.
Between March 1 and June 30, a total of $1.7 billion in loan help was distributed in Florida through mortgage principal reductions, refinances, short sale approvals and activities such as providing moving assistance for people who can’t stay in their homes.
Nationally, $10.5 billion in mortgage relief, including $1.3 billion in debt reduction, was meted out by banks, according to the report issued by the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight and independent monitor Joseph Smith.
The banks included in the settlement are JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America and Ally Financial, formerly GMAC. Loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not included.
Until recently, principal reductions on home loans were almost unheard of. But in May, Bank of America said it was offering about 200,000 underwater homeowners nationwide mortgage reductions that for the first 5,000 people approved had averaged $145,000 per borrower.
According to the progress report, about $115 million in primary mortgage debt in Florida was eliminated since March. JPMorgan Chase offered the most in principal reductions on primary loans at $76 million.
Donovan said he was generally pleased with the report.
“The key is whether they continue to deliver on those results and we will be watching them like hawks to ensure they live up to their promises,” he said. “Certainly, banks expect homeowners to live up to their obligations each month and we should expect the same from the banks.”
Lenders have until Feb. 28, 2015 to meet the settlement requirements.
Copyright © 2012 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Kimberly Miller. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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