Hurricane Alex Blows Clouds Over Florida Housing Market, and More

A storm is brewing in Florida. BP Oil spill damage and impending hurricanes could do a number on Florida homeownersHurricane Alex and the ongoing effects of the Gulf oil spill are brewing a perfect storm from which overburdened Florida homeowners may not soon recover. Meanwhile, short sales are through the roof, nationally.

HousingWatch takes a closer look at these major headlines from around the media universe:
Hurricane Alex Hovers Over Florida's Delinquent Mortgage Holders

Half of all private-label securitized mortgages in Florida are already 60 days delinquent and the added financial toll of hurricane season and potential oil damage could sink even more cash-strapped borrowers, according to HousingWire.

Due to Florida's high rate of negative equity (81 percent of all loans are underwater) and high rate of unemployment, further economic stress brought on by the Gulf oil spill and declines in the tourism and fishing industries would be likely to further increase default rates, said Fitch managing director Roelof Slump.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and runs through the end of November. With an active hurricane season expected, fears of oil damage from the Gulf Coast spill are also mounting.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Ends Tomorrow

The end of the homebuyer tax credit is finally upon us, and qualifying buyers have until 11:59 on Wednesday to close on their purchase.

The deadline to collect on the up to $8,000 tax credit officially ended on April 30, but buyers who had initiated the process were given until the end of June to close on the deal. The National Association of Realtors estimates that 180,000 homebuyers qualify for the grace period.

There's still a chance that Congress will vote to extend the tax credit beyond June 30 -- the House voted in favor of that -- but buyers waiting to close shouldn't count on it.

Short Sales Skyrocket 600 Percent

With lenders desperate to lessen the sting of foreclosures, short sales are up in a huge way, according to REO Insider.
Freddie Mac CEO Ed Haldeman announced that short sales have jumped a whopping 600 percent since 2008, in part because of lenders' attempts to stem the flow of foreclosures on the market.

"Foreclosure alternatives like short sales and deeds-in-lieu help borrowers to avoid the stigma of foreclosure, shorten the waiting period before they can buy a new home, and may inflict less damage on their credit reports," Haldeman said.

Expect these numbers to climb even higher, as the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program gains traction. Launched in April, the program will provide cash incentives to loan servicers for completing short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

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