In recent months, government officials and media outlets have heralded an about-face on the housing market, crowing about the reduction of foreclosure filings, the spike in housing prices and the historically low housing rates.
Additionally, the number of unsold houses in recent months is the lowest it’s been since 2000, average land values has shot up by nearly 15 percent – the first increase in eight years – and 1.7 million homeowners have been lifted out of negative equity in the last year.
Still, our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that serious issues remain.
Perhaps the greatest issue is the huge number of foreclosures that are still clogged in the system, with many of those involving homeowners who are still underwater on properties where mortgages are higher than the value. Florida in particular has struggled in this regard, which is why state legislators have been trying – albeit through misguided bills – to pass measures that would significantly curb the wait time on these cases.
When we look at the recovery of the private housing market, the improvements are spotty at best. As recently as October, some 65 percent of the national housing market still reported prices that were lower than the start of the housing crisis in 2008.
In Florida, home prices are about 40 percent below those highs. What’s more, one in every eight mortgages is in some stage of the foreclosure process.
Throughout the country, some 14 million homeowners – about 20 percent of all those with mortgages – are still underwater. Most are still paying, but many are still barely hanging on.
And that brings us to the next point, which is that we have a huge number of homeowners who are a hair trigger away from a foreclosure, grappling with mounting debt and repossession of property. Already, some 4 million people have lost their homes since the start of the housing crisis six years ago. Those who are still struggling are, for the most part, middle class minorities, according to recent federal reports. While the median net-worth of white people has fallen by about 30 percent, the same figure for black people has fallen between 40 and 55 percent. That kind of damage doesn’t lend itself to an easy recovery.
And no one has been spared. Younger people are not only losing their homes, but they aren’t buying or even renting at the rates they once reported. Some 3 million older folks are at grave risk of losing their homes, according tot he AARP.
A staggering 5.3 million Americans are behind on their mortgage payments right now.
Bank foreclosures are still running at a rate of some 40,000 monthly, and the percentage of mortgages that are in foreclosure is still eight times higher than was reported in 2005, at the height of the bubble.
Many more people are turning to short sales. This option unfortunately doesn’t allow them to hang onto their homes, but it does allow the borrower to walk away without debt looming over their heads. Although it’s a lesser hit to one’s credit, it’s often no less emotionally scarring.
Still, there are other options. Banks are being given more incentives than ever to offer loan modifications and other alternatives to foreclosure. But you will need a strong advocate on your side.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.
America’s Half-Forgotten Housing Crisis, May 6, 2013, By David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies, Wake Forest University, Department of Politics
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Florida Foreclosure Payouts Pale in Comparison to Consultant Checks, May 7, 2013, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog