Florida Homeowners Find Little to Cheer

Florida (STOFL1), the U.S. state with the highest percentage of troubled mortgages, may collect almost one-quarter of the national $25 billion foreclosure settlement. For Cheryl Alexander, who had a court halt the forced sale of her home, that’s not enough.

“We’re not sheep that can be led to the slaughter,” said Alexander, a 61-year-old who has been fighting to keep her Cape Coral house for four years. “These are fraudulent bankers and Wall Street gangsters who have to pay for what they’ve done.”

The deal includes 49 states and ends a probe into five U.S. mortgage servicers over abuses stemming from the housing bubble’s collapse. It requires the banks to pay $20 billion in mortgage relief and $5 billion to state and federal governments. The settlement may mean as much as $8.4 billion in benefits for Florida homeowners, said Attorney General Pam Bondi, who helped negotiate the agreement.

While Bondi described the deal yesterday as a historic win, interviews around the Sunshine State revealed anger among homeowners stuck in foreclosure cases that last longer than in any other state, and skepticism from real-estate professionals leery of banks’ promises.

“They say it’s a lot of money, but is it?” said Richard Thompson, a 51-year-old real-estate agent who has sold property in Broward County for 26 years. “You wonder if this is just p.r. or if it’s going to help genuine people stay in their home and help stabilize the market.”

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