South Florida homeowners are receiving a much needed break when it comes to their mortgages, following the devastation left by Hurricane Irma. Lenders are offering financial relief in the form of freezing foreclosures, putting mortgage payments on hold and offering special financing options to rebuild damaged homes in the area.
Our office has been getting a number of calls about this and we want to clarify the relief options available and steps you can take to qualify for these government programs.
- Call your lender directly. This is the safest route to confirming that an assistance offer is the real thing. Before the call, gather as much information about your financial situation and mortgage as possible. It is important that you tell the lender what you can afford to pay and your current financial situation.
- Know your options. Many homeowners who have been affected by Hurricane Irma are eligible for forbearance, which means the lender will suspend payments for up to 12 months (especially if you have a government-backed mortgage through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac). You will not incur late fees or have a delinquency reported to any of the major credit bureaus. Many lenders are currently offering 90 days of mortgage forbearance in affected areas Florida, with an option for some homeowners to extend further based on their situation. If you have a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, you are eligible for forbearance, a loan modification or a 90-day delay in foreclosure, to allow you to get current on your payments.
- Proceed with caution. Be cautious of calls from people claiming to offer mortgage relief on behalf of a government agency, or asking for fees upfront for a loan or service. Unfortunately, this has also provided an opportunity for scammers to come forward using social media and cleverly crafted emails to prey on vulnerable homeowners in financial need. Know this: Government employees never charge you a fee to help get you a benefit or service and will never ask for your payment or financial information.
Here are some additional FHA Programs available for hurricane victims:
- HUD recently granted a 90-day suspension on foreclosures for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration. There are more than 280,000 FHA-insured Florida homeowners living in these impacted counties. For more details call: 1-800-569-4287.
- For homeowners or renters who have lost their homes, HUD’s Section 203(h) program gives FHA insurance to disaster victims who have to rebuild or purchase another house. The loans come with no down payment and greater forgiveness of low credit scores. For more details call: 1-800-569-4287.
If your lender is not proactively offering forbearance or other help, you can go directly to the websites of the Federal Housing Finance Agency or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to see what type of relief you might qualify for, and bring this up to your lender.
We hope and pray you and your family made it through the storm safely and our community is quickly restored. During this time of recovery, our office is open and we are here if you need us. If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.