Florida lags U.S. in mortgage relief, report shows

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Mary Shanklin

Published November 23, 2012


Underwater homeowners in Florida received less mortgage relief under a national mortgage settlement than homeowners elsewhere in the country, according to a report released Monday.

The average relief granted to struggling Florida mortgage customers was $73,663 from March through September about $10,000 less than the national average, according to a monitoring report of a settlement reached earlier this year between state attorney generals and the nation's five top lenders.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who took a leading role in settlement talks, released a statement Monday noting that the report by settlement monitor Joseph Smith is based on data self-reported by lenders and has not been verified.

Bondi focused on the sheer volume of mortgage relief realized in Florida, rather than the average benefit amount for each homeowner.

"Florida was one of only two states in the country that negotiated a guarantee in the settlement," she stated Monday. "The fact that servicers report $3.6 billion in relief to Florida's borrowers within the first eight months of implementation is a promising indication that obtaining a minimum commitment from the banks has been effective."

For more than 300,000 homeowners nationally who have benefited from the settlement, relief has included first and second lien modifications, facilitation of short sales, deficiency waivers, principal forbearance for unemployed borrowers, anti-blight activities, refinancing programs and benefits for members of the Armed Forces.

Homeowners in other hardest hit states generally got greater relief than Floridians: California, $111,581 on average for 80,079 homeowners; Nevada, $100,089 on average for 9,071 homeowners; Arizona, $75,702 on average for 13,011; Florida, $73,663 on average for 48,998 homeowners; and Michigan, $43,534 on average for 8,804 homeowners.

The average amount each lender has forgiven or modified for Florida homeowners includes: Ally Financial, $100,411 on average for 788 customers; JP Morgan Chase, $83,726 on average for 12,798; Bank of America, $75,185 on average for 26,520; CitiBank, $58,937 on average for 1,875 customers, and Wells Fargo, $50,492 on average for 7,017.