Saturday, November 18, 2017
Business

Hardest-Hit glitch bounces out homeowners hoping to slash mortgage debt

RECOMMENDED READING


A Florida Hardest-Hit Fund technical glitch Wednesday morning turned away underwater homeowners hoping for a chance to cut up to $50,000 off their mortgage debt.

A state website said the fund's new $350 million principal-reduction program reached its limit of 25,000 applications only seconds after its 9 a.m. start.

Officials say the glitch began on a server used by a state website contractor. It has since been corrected, and homeowners can still apply.

Jayne Lisbeth, who said she has never missed a payment on her "underwater" home in Tampa's Seminole Heights, prepared all her documentation Tuesday night and was at her computer exactly at 9 a.m. when the website told her it was no longer accepting applications.

"I was almost in tears," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, how is this possible?' "

After half a dozen tries, she was finally able to submit an application. But she worried what would have happened if she wasn't able to get in: "I probably would have just given up."

The program will give an average of $35,000 to about 10,000 Floridians who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. State officials will accept a starting pool of 25,000 applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

To qualify, residents must be current on a mortgage they signed before 2010 that has less than $350,000 in outstanding debt. They must owe more than 25 percent over the home's market value — say, $250,000 in loan debt for a home now valued at $200,000 — and meet household income requirements.

Officials say they don't know when the fund will meet its application cap, but even with its tight restrictions the program could see stiff competition.

The 10,000 payouts will cover less than 1 percent of Florida's underwater homeowners. Tampa Bay alone has 200,000 underwater homes.

By 2 p.m., state officials said they had received more than 7,000 applications, with nine streaming in every minute.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or [email protected]

Comments
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Updated: 12 hours ago
HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and ...
Published: 11/17/17
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Published: 11/17/17
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Published: 11/17/17
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Published: 11/17/17
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Published: 11/17/17
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17
Want to travel solo? Local enthusiasts share stories, tips for holidays trips

Want to travel solo? Local enthusiasts share stories, tips for holidays trips

Stephanie Maisonneuve visited the walled city of Cartagena, a port city off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. She rode horseback down the city’s cobbled streets clucking past flower-filled balconies and massive, wooden arched doors. The travel enthusi...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17