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Florida offers mortgage reduction for underwater homeowners

5:50 PM, Sep 30, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Life is good for John and Sharon Fisher, but they would be first to tell you that it would be better if they had a break on their mortgage.

"We have a very high interest rate," said Fisher, "but we've never missed a payment, we've never been late."

The Fishers are retired, on a fixed income, and they say sometimes the $1,200 a month payment becomes a struggle.

"We love our home," said Fisher, "We can't sell it and we don't want to sell it."   

They can't sell because when the economy tanked, foreclosures went up and home values went down.

"We've lost almost $100,000 in the place," he said. 

The Fishers are hoping the state's newest program will help; they've  applied to the Florida's Principal Reduction Program.

"It would mean a new life almost for us, because we are both on Social Security," he said.

Carrie Davis, CEO of Wealth Watchers, helped the Fishers complete their online application. Since the program began, there has been a stampede of applications.

"What we found is a large set of this population are seniors like Mr. and Mrs. Fisher. They're struggling too just like everybody else," said Davis.

Davis has a nonprofit that counsels struggling homeowners. She said the timing of the Principal Reduction Program is perfect. The qualifications are simple. 

"You can't be late for the last 24 months, you need to be underwater on your mortgage and it needs to be your primary residence," she said.

The only way to apply is on the state's website; the help is free.

"This program is only available on a first come, first serve basis, the state is only going to accept 25,000 applications and that's statewide," said Davis.

After reaching 25,000 applications, the system will reject any other application.

The Fishers were able to get in on time. Now they're waiting to find out how much the state will shave off their mortgage, which would reduce their monthly payments.

"We love our home and we work very hard to keep it, we would like to keep it," said Fisher.

The program has made it clear that how much they reduce the mortgage principal for homeowners underwater will vary, but it could be as much as $50,000.

To apply go to this website:

http://www.principalreductionflhhf.org


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