Bank of America's long-overdue pledge to accelerate the pace of short sales finally should help move thousands of distressed properties off the books — including the bank's 253,000 delinquent mortgages in Florida. That should boost the gingerly recovering real estate market, end headaches for buyers and provide stressed underwater homeowners much-needed relief from the stigma of foreclosure. It's about time.
Bank of America has set an ambitious goal of 20 days to approve short sale transactions. It says new technology will help it corral an often byzantine process that has left buyers and sellers dangling for months, if the sale was completed at all. Most importantly, Bank of America and other lenders are also waiving deficiencies on mortgages, allowing homeowners to sell their homes for less than they owe without having to make up the difference to the banks. The forgiven balances will save millions of dollars in protracted foreclosure court proceedings, hefty legal fees and lingering property taxes.
About 18 percent of all Florida mortgages are delinquent, a significant hurdle in reviving the real estate market, which plays a vital role in the nation's economic health. Bank of America and the country's other major financial institutions, which played a leading role in creating the mortgage crisis, have been slow to come to the aid of homeowners woefully underwater on their mortgages, many through no fault of their own. Here's to a fresh start.