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How did 2017's hurricanes affect Florida foreclosure filings?

After the hurricanes that ravaged parts of Florida last year, it would be expected that foreclosure rates would rise. According to a recent study by a real estate analytics company, foreclosure filings in the first quarter of this year were up in the areas impacted by the barrage of hurricanes. However, they're still less than they were before the storms. That's the case both in regions of Florida and Texas, where Harvey and Irma wrecked havoc.

Experts say that the number of homeowners in areas where the hurricanes hit who are facing serious delinquency problems decreased after spiking during the winter. That's good news for South Florida property values, which can be hurt by foreclosures.

These experts point to efforts by consumer advocates. They also say that lenders are more willing to help people modify their loans than they have been in the past. This puts homeowners in a better position to modify their mortgages and keep their homes than they were after previous hurricanes, including Katrina, Ike and Sandy.

Housing counselors say that lenders have been more amenable to helping hurricane victims facing mortgage issues and potential foreclosure than those who are in the same spot due to financial problems. As one attorney with the Mortgage Bankers Association says that "for people who are performing on their loans, we wanted to make sure we don't put them into a worse financial position than they were prior to the disaster."

However, many hurricane victims who didn't seek help promptly aren't so lucky. As one housing counselor says, "They're going to utilize whatever resources they have to rebuild the home, and sometimes miss the payment on the home, which is just going to make it worse."

The South Florida real estate market can be a complicated one, even when we're not still dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane. Whether you're facing a potential foreclosure or seeking to purchase a property that's in foreclosure, an experienced Florida real estate attorney can provide valuable guidance.

Source: CNN Money, "How these hurricane-ravaged states have avoided a housing disaster -- so far," Lydia DePillis, April 22, 2018

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