Florida's Mortgage Mess: Options

Jan 4, 2013

Some people facing foreclosure have fewer options than others.
Credit Robert Lyle /WLRN

All this week, we've been looking at the continuing foreclosure crisis sure crisis in Florida. Today, we check in back in with one woman who fears losing her home.

While there are many federal, state and private bank programs to modify troubled mortgages, each requires the lender to agree.

Unlike the more than 260 lenders in Florida who are helping, Marla Popkin’s mortgage holder won’t. Popkin is an Occupational Therapist in Miami. Work is slow and she has come into some rough times. Now she's trying to save her home. 

Popkin has gallows humor about her options:

“My choices would be to commit suicide, rent my house...” she laughs.  

Federal officials say Marla’s best alternative is to contact a Housing and Urban Development counseling service.

Consumer Federation’s Barry Zigas says that, above all, people should avoid for-profit firms. 

“It’s very difficult for consumers under pressure – you know, who don’t know where to turn, can sometimes be lured into arrangements that are very disadvantageous that just cost a fortune and don’t help,” Zigas says.  

Federal officials are cracking down on pay-up-front scams, but some are still around and fleecing  consumers of every last penny.

If you are facing similar problems, there are resources at your disposal:

  1. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a series of online tips and resources to avoid foreclosure.
  2.  The Florida Housing Finance Corporation maintains a calendar of foreclosure counseling events and a list of approved foreclosure avoidance counselors.
  3. There is also a toll free number for HUD. It's 888-995-4673
  4. It is important to only use non-profit counseling services recommended by the HUD or by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.