When Hurricane Irma blew through the southeast in the early Fall of 2017, it was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded. The hurricane stretched 650 miles from east to west, affected nine U.S. states, and flooded Jacksonville, Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina, before it dissipated. During the storm, millions were without power and thousands of homeowners experienced weather damage and were out of work.
Nearly a year later, Hurricane Irma is still interfering with those homeowners. According to a new report from CoreLogic, local homeowners in the Sarasota-Manatee region of Florida “struggled” to pay their mortgages on time:
- 7% of mortgages were at least 30 days overdue (compared to 3.4% before Irma)
- In January 2018, 5.4% of mortgages were at least 30 days overdue
- In nearby areas, nearly one in 20 mortgages were at least 30 days late, up from 3.3% the year prior
What Do Hurricanes Have to Do with Mortgages?
While you might think the only homeowners who would be affected by a big storm would be those with storm damage, the reality is much bleaker. Irma put thousands of homeowners out of work even if their properties remained intact. If you worked within a 300,000-square-mile area, then your place of work might have been affected by the enormous storm.
Fortunately, most lenders realize the toll a major weather event can take on the homeowning community. Many lenders in areas of the country affected by the storm worked with homeowners to accept late payments or extended offers of leniency to homeowners struggling with delinquency. Of course, those offers only helped if homeowners responded, and many with severe damage simply opted to walk away.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns now facing homeowners in these areas is, “What next?” Hurricane season began June 1. “As we enter the summer, the risk of hurricane and wildfire damage to homes increases, as does the risk of damage-related loan default,” warned CoreLogic president and CEO Frank Martell.