Program helps Florida homeowners trim mortgage

Principal Reduction Program rolled out

ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida housing officials rolled out a new program Wednesday designed to help homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages.

The "Principal Reduction Program" was created to help trim as much as $50,000 off the mortgages of some homes in the state, said Cecka Rose Green, a spokeswoman for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

Unlike the two programs before it that focused on unemployed Floridians or those who hit desperately tough times, the Principal Reduction Program aims to help homeowners who are current on their mortgage but now find themselves owing more than their house is worth.

"This helps homeowners who have weathered the storm and stayed current but have experienced depressed home values due to the market," Green said.

There's a strict list of qualifications for the program that include being current on mortgage payments, obtaining your mortgage before 2010, owing a principal less than $350,000, having a loan-to-value ratio of more than 125 percent and earning less than $81,863 in the Orlando-Sanford-Kissimmee area.

While the state waits for people to apply for part of the $350 million available through the program, some mortgage brokers are skeptical this is going to help many homeowners.  Some complained about recent programs' stringent and tedious application process.

"The documents are not as stringent in this program because we are not paying a mortgage, we're reducing the principal," Green said.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation began taking applications at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

[MORE INFORMATION:  Principal Reduction Program]

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