Out of the almost 100,000 Florida loans that are trial modifications under President Obama's foreclosure curbing program, only 8,405 have received permanent amendments. Unfortunately, the program has not been running as smoothly as originally thought. The aim was to help the country's 3 million-plus home loans that have been defaulted on by their borrowers.
According to the Treasury Department, the program was marketed as a support solution for millions, but the success of the plan is taking a lot longer, with enormous amounts of red tape and complicated logistics involved.
Florida has reported lower than expected numbers, especially since the state was one of the hardest hit by the subprime crisis and the housing market decline.
The plan, which is monikered the Making Homes Affordable program, provides incentives to banks to alter their loans by either lowering interest rates, lengthening the loan, or reducing the principal amount owed.
The Making Homes Affordable program gives incentives to banks to modify loans in three basic ways; reducing interest rates to as low as 2 percent, increasing the life of the loan, and reducing the principal owed on the loan.
"You keep hearing about this wonderful program the government is doing but it's not working," said Joel Bienvenu, a Florida resident who has applied for a loan modification. "I keep getting excuses that they are just overwhelmed."
Anthony DiMarco, executive vice president of government affairs for the Florida Bankers Association, said the government is trying to help and that the lenders are also trying to figure out a way to speed up their learning curve. "I think the industry is working hard," he said. "You can't ramp up a program like this overnight."
Shari Olefson, a real estate attorney in Ft. Lauderdale thinks that the high unemployment is preventing the plan from working. "The program itself is a failure," said Olefson. "It's trying to put a square peg in a round hole."
It remains to be seen whether the rising unemployment does in fact bar the Making Homes Affordable from succeeding. Until then, Florida homeowners are anticipating answers to their loan modifications and waiting to hear if they will be able to save their mortgages and their homes.
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