A new program – Hardest Hit – has provided Florida with $1bn to help those who are unemployed (or underemployed) keep their homes. Around 3,400 home-owners are being helped in this way. The program began nine months ago from Florida and since that time, around 23,320 have filled out applications. A staggering $77.3 m has been given to those applications that were approved (or set aside for them). Moving over to Palm Beach County, out of the 1,931 applications received, 348 were approved and $7.7m was paid out or reserved for this program.
To be eligible for the program, homeowners need to be Florida residents, using the property as their primary residence. As well, they need to be unemployed/underemployed with a total household income that does not reach 140 percent of the area median income. Finally, their financial hardship must be the result of something that the homeowner did not cause themselves.
There have however, been some critics of the program. For example, some have complained that too many people are not eligible. Indeed, close to 10,000 homeowners failed the eligibility test. One of the reasons was that they were more than 180 days late for mortgage payments. But that seems unfair as they probably did not pay because they were unable to and thus need the help from the Hardest Hit program.
So while Hardest Hit is a great program, it definitely has room for improvement.
Finally, after months of poor performance in America’s housing industry, it seems like 2012 is going to be the year of recovery, albeit gradual. In South Florida for example, home sales are increasing which is good because prices were really hitting a low. However, the mortgages people took out during the boom are still negatively impacting the market and this has been extremely challenging for many homeowners.
So, for those encountering difficulties in the housing market – be they homeowners, those looking to buy or potential sellers – there are some ways of improving the situation. First, since things have started to look up, for those looking to sell it is worth trying to do so earlier rather than later before foreclosures appear. No matter how desperate you are to sell though, do not try to provide cash/cars/other incentives to get them to buy. It is a bad idea.
In general, it looks like it is going to be a good year for sales; there are fewer declines in pricing as well as fewer properties on the market than in say 2009, 2010 and 2011. In addition, it is anticipated that there will be another wave of bank-owned homes which will result in lower values and additional competition for those looking to buy properties.
Good news for those in the South Florida housing market. According to the Miami Association of Realtors, looking at figures for November 2011, there was a significant increase from the same timeframe last year. However, numbers for October 2011 were slightly higher (so this indicates a drop now). Still, it is good news.
Looking at Miami-Dade County there was mixed news too. Although there was a drop of 10 percent in sales from last month to this, again there was an increase of a staggering 25 percent from November 2010 to November 2011. It seems like the trend is thus set vis-à-vis October, November 2011 and November 2010.
In general though, according to an official from the Miami Association of Realtors, this news is indicative of a “balanced and healthy marketplace.”