Lenders in South Florida continue to see a decline in homeowners late in paying their mortgages as South Floridians are among the nation’s leaders in getting loan modifications.
Bank of America, which is hosting a free homeowner assistance event this weekend in Miami Beach, has seen the number of homeowners at least 60 days late drop by about a third in less than a year, said Jessica Garcia, vice president for the bank’s national mortgage outreach.
The lender’s declining rate of delinquent South Florida homeowners — from about 30,000 last June to 19,000 now — mirrors a national downward trend, according to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report released Friday.
“Mortgage delinquency rates continue a downward trend and are substantially below year ago levels,” according to the federal report.
As of February, 39,902 homeowners have gotten loan modifications in Broward, Palm Beach and Broward counties to make their monthly payments lower and more affordable, the U.S Treasury found. Another 3,902 families are now on a trial modification plan, according to the Treasury report.
Bank of America and other lenders in South Florida say they have seen the tide turn with fewer homeowners paying late.
No homeowner with a mortgage at Boca Raton-based Paradise Bank has been later than 30 days with a payment in the last two months, said Ward Kellogg, the bank’s chairman.
“That hasn’t been the case for three years,” Kellogg said. “I think we are working through the issues.”
Not only have delinquencies gone down, “we’ve had less members asking for help,” added Doug Leever, mortgage sales manager at Miramar-based Tropical Financial Credit Union.
BankUnited and Regions Bank are also seeing fewer delinquencies.
At BankUnited, loans that were seriously delinquent — more than 60 days late, excluding foreclosures — have fallen 28 percent in a year, from March 2011 to last month, said spokeswoman Mary Harris.
Regions has seen a decline in its total loan delinquency rate for seven straight quarters, according to its fourth quarter report. Spokesman Mel Campbell was not able to provide numbers specific to South Florida but said about a fourth of the 42,000 homeowners that Regions has helped through its Customers Assistance Program live in the Sunshine State.
That “translates into about $1.5 billion in assistance to distressed homeowners, just in Florida,” Campbell said in an e-mail.
Bank of America will be reaching out this weekend to its 19,000 late homeowners who live within 125 miles of the Miami Beach Convention Center, where the three-day session will be held.
“There’s still need in the community,” said Garcia.