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Spike in Florida homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments

Homeowners fear losing homes, but lenders are forgiving, so far
Susan Shear afraid she might lose her Delray Beach house
Posted at 7:44 AM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 22:51:15-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Thousands of Floridians who've recently lost their jobs now fear they'll lose their homes.

According to a leading real estate tracking firm, nearly one in 10 homeowners in the state are behind in their mortgage payments by 90 days or longer.

"I have not been this nervous, worried or stressed out in my entire life," said Delray Beach resident Susan Shear, who works for a travel agency.

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, her hours at work and her income were cut in half. She's likely to miss many of her upcoming mortgage payments on her home.

"Would I lose my house?" asked Shear. "That would be my biggest fear."

Contact 5 found a sharp rise in the number of homeowners falling behind in Florida.

These are the number from the last six months from the real estate tracking and analysis company Black Knight.

Florida Atlantic University business professor and real estate expert Ken Johnson said this about the numbers that jumped in April.

"I cannot see this going on another year," Johnson said. "At some point in time, if we don't have effective treatments and or vaccines, these things are going to add up, and we will have a problem."

Johnson said mortgage delinquencies in Florida are not at a crisis state, yet.

Florida has a moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners who fall behind on payments due to COVID-19.

The professor also adds that most lenders allow homeowners "forbearance." That's where the homeowner can essentially call a time out, pause making payments for up to a year and then make up those payments later.

Johnson believes that since banks tightened credit rules for home buying after the last recession, most homeowners have enough credit to hang on and avoid foreclosure for awhile.

He sums up the spike in mortgage delinquencies this way.

"This is more a tropical storm than a Category 4 hurricane, which we had in all of housing a decade ago," Johnson said.

Don't mention hurricanes to Susan Shear.

Roof on Susan Shear's Delray Beach house
Susan Shear recently took out a home improvement loan for a new roof, but now she's using that money to pay her mortgage and other bills.

She recently took out a home improvement loan for a new roof, but now she's using that money to pay her mortgage and other bills.

"I'm a struggling-to-hold on middle-class person," said Shear, who hopes her travel agency's business bounces back so she can get back to working full-time and paying her bills on-time.

"It depends on the pandemic," she said. "It's travel. It's business travel. It's a difficult time."

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