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More than 14 percent of Florida mortgages in foreclosure

It used to be that signing your mortgage documents was an exhilarating experience. New homebuyers eagerly agreed to the terms of the loan because they knew it was an important step towards becoming homeowners.

Now, most homebuyers (and lenders for that matter) sign those mortgage documents with trepidation. And in Florida, there is a good reason for their hesitation. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, more than 14 percent of all mortgages in Florida are in foreclosure. That is the highest foreclosure rate in the country.

People who excitedly signed those mortgage papers only a few years ago are now having trouble making the payments. Perhaps they have lost their jobs, or maybe the adjustable rate mortgage became too high to pay. Or perhaps the homebuyers have encountered a different financial challenge as the Great Recession takes its toll on Floridians. Regardless of the reason, "more than 20 percent of all loans in Florida are somewhere past due or somewhere in foreclosure," according to the vice president of the MBA.

There is another possible explanation for the rise in the percentage of Florida mortgages in foreclosure. The foreclosure process in Miami-Dade County now takes nearly twice as long as it took in 2007. Once a home enters foreclosure, it takes 742 days for the foreclosure to be completed. That means that as new homes enter foreclosure, more homes are still in the process.

For the 14 percent of homeowners in foreclosure and the 5 percent who are more than 90 days behind on mortgage payments, the future may seem bleak. However, they should know that there are legal options, especially before the foreclosure process begins. An experienced foreclosure defense or bankruptcy attorney can explain those options and help individuals make decisions that protect their assets.

Source: Miami Herald, "Florida's foreclosure rate is nation's highest," Toluse Olorunnipa, 17 Feb 2011

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