POSTED: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 11:10am
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 11:19am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Homeowners facing foreclosure in Florida are walking away with thousands of dollars in cash. Bank of America is trying to stem the tide of foreclosures in the Sunshine State, by paying homeowners to get out before it gets to that point.
The well-kept lawn, the newly remodeled kitchen and stylish decor in this Miami Springs home have been Raul Zayas' pride for the last 6 years.
Homeowner Raul Zayas says "this was going to be the house I would be living in for the rest of my life, I looked at this house for 25 years."
Mr. Zayas bought this two-bedroom home in 2005 for $450,000. That's what's his 1,700 square foot home is worth today.
Melanie Hyer of Keller Williams Realty says "many homeowners have been living in their homes and they've stopped making payments so they've been living basically rent free so what's their incentive to go ahead and do a short sale?"
Bank of America has given homeowners like Mr. Zayas a reason to get out and get paid. A new pilot program offers owners up to $20,000 to short sell homes instead of letting them fall into foreclosure.
Melanie Hyer says "it will benefit the banks, it will benefit the home sellers, it will benefit the buyers and it will benefit the court systems."
To qualify, homeowners must secure a buyer before November 30 and close before August 31 next year. The amount awarded to the buyer depends on the value of the home and the length of delinquency. Bank of America says it helps homeowners leave with dignity.
Melanie Hyer says "a lot of times they're really upset and they'll trash the homes."
Raul Zayas says "it's bittersweet but I'm very grateful to Bank of America."
Mr. Zaya's realtor says the home is now up for sale for $200,000.
Raul Zayas says "I think I'm going to move to South Beach, do a condo."
Bank of America says this pilot program is only being rolled out in Florida since the Sunshine state has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. If successful it could be expanded to other states.