May 13, 2014
florida hfa.jpg
Florida Housing Finance Corporation

 
 
Representatives of Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) announced that the online application for the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund Principal Reduction (HHF-PR) program will re-open on Thursday, May 15, beginning at 9:00 a.m. (Eastern). Florida homeowners who have remained current on their mortgages, but missed out on the opportunity to apply for the program last fall, will be able to do so later this week. The online application will be available at the official Florida HHF Principal Reduction website, www.PrincipalReductionFLHHF.org, for homeowners in all 67 counties.
 
“Since we first announced that the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund would implement a Principal Reduction program for homeowners who have remained current on their mortgages, we have been able to assist more than 2,400 homeowners with nearly $102 million,” said Steve Auger, executive director of Florida Housing. “While our state’s housing market continues to recover, this is a second opportunity for those homeowners who did not apply last year to see if they may qualify for HHF-PR assistance.”
 
The program reached its goal of accepting 25,000 applications within one week prior to closing the application process last fall. Florida Housing anticipates that the online application will remain open until disbursements for qualified and approved homeowners near the $350 million in Florida Hardest-Hit funds approved by the Corporation’s Board. As HHF-PR funding nears the allocation, Florida Housing will make public announcements approximately five working days prior to closing the application. Previous applicants who were deemed ineligible may have their applications re-evaluated by contacting their assigned HHF-PR Advisor and should not submit a new application.
 
The Florida HHF-PR program is designed to provide up to $50,000 to eligible homeowners who owe at least 125% more on their home than its current market value—commonly known as having a home that is “underwater.” Funds will be applied to reduce the principal balance of the first mortgage to lower its loan-to-value (LTV) to no less than 100%. The mortgage can then be recast (re-amortized) or refinanced to produce a lower monthly mortgage payment.
 
The minimum qualifications a homeowner must meet to be considered for participation in the Florida HHF-PR program are as follows:
·         Must be a Florida resident and a legal US resident/legal alien, and occupy the property as the primary residence;
·         Must be current on the monthly mortgage payment—first mortgage payment cannot have been 60 or more days late within the past 24 months;
·         Must have purchased the home prior to January 1, 2010;
·         The unpaid principal balance for the first mortgage cannot exceed $350,000;
·         The loan-to-value for the first mortgage must be greater than 125%—in other words, home must be more than 125% “underwater”; and
·         The total household income, including all persons age 18 years and older who live in the home, must be less than 140% of the Area Median Income.
 
Principal reduction program funds will be in the form of a 0-percent interest, forgivable loan that will be subordinate to current mortgages on the home. The loan can be forgiven over a five-year period, at a rate of 20 percent each year. For conventional mortgages, once HHF-PR funds are applied to the principal, the mortgage will be recast (the terms of the loans will remain the same, but the loan will be re-amortized).
 
If the borrower has a FHA, VA or USDA-RD mortgage, the mortgage will need to be refinanced within 180 days after closing on HHF principal reduction funds in order to receive the pro rata forgiveness.
If a refinance is not completed within the specified time, the principal reduction loan will be 100 percent forgiven after a full five years, with no incremental forgiveness.
 
Homeowners in every Florida county may apply for the Florida HHF-PR program by using the official website, www.PrincipalReductionFLHHF.org, which contains all the information users will need to begin the application process, including a program fact sheet and answers to frequently asked questions.
 
The official Florida HHF-PR website is the only way a homeowner can apply for assistance. Homeowners should verify that they are using www.PrincipalReductionFLHHF.org before providing personal information via the web. If applicants are suspicious about a website, they can submit a report on the official HHF-PR website by clicking the “Report Fraud” link on the homepage. Also, they may call the Florida HHF Toll-free Information Line at 1-(877) 863-5244 to ensure they are using the correct website address. Application for the Florida HHF-PR program is FREE-OF-CHARGE, and applicants will not be asked to pay for any eligibility determination services in conjunction with applying for the program.