Mortgages could cost more in Florida

Special to The Log

The Federal Housing Finance Agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is considering higher mortgage fees in Florida and four other states.

Last year, FHFA announced that it wanted to tinker with mortgage fees and apply them based on risk. The current proposal stems from that. According to FHFA, a foreclosure costs more money in states that force courts to oversee foreclosures because the process takes longer, and every delay costs a lender more money. Consequently, a lender in Florida faces a greater risk of financial loss.

In addition to Florida, the proposed rule would apply in Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. It would be the first time mortgage fees vary by state.

As proposed by FHFA, mortgage fees would go up by 0.15 to 0.3 percent. Homeowners that take out a $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in Florida would pay about $3.50 to $7.00 more per month if the proposal went into effect, according to FHFA.

It’s unclear, however, whether the rule will become effective. Senators and Representatives from the five impacted states are expected to oppose the measure. Mark Goldhaber, a housing policy expert in North Carolina, tells The Wall Street Journal that the change makes sense economically, “but politically, it will be extraordinarily difficult.”

“We’re tracking the proposal closely, and (Florida) Sen. Bill Nelson’s office has already asked us for our reaction and comments,” said Florida Realtors’ senior vice president of Public Policy John Sebree. “While we have not finalized our response, we’re opposed to any move that makes homeownership more difficult in Florida.”

According to foreclosure tracking firm Lender Processing Services, it takes about 1,000 days to foreclose on a Florida home, an increase from 400 days in 2008. In non-court foreclosure states, it takes an average of 650 days.

This article was contributed to The Log by Florida Realtors.