Lost Your House? The Worst Is Yet To Come.

Yesterday, the St. Petersburg Times published a terrifying little story that somebody should have written years ago, informing the Floridian public of the awful things that could befall them even after they've foreclosed on their tanking mortgages, and given their housekeys to the banks.

The banks will likely still come for them, reported staff writer Kris Hundley -- and if not the banks, then "a second mortgage holder, a mortgage insurance company or a government entity like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac."

They will come demanding ex-home-owners pay the difference between the size of their erstwhile mortgages and the amounts for which the lenders had the homes appraised. These debts are called "deficiency judgments," and there will be a lot of them.

"To recoup the debt," Hundley writes, "creditors may be able to garnish wages and take money from bank accounts. They can also go after certain possessions, like jewelry, rental properties and boats."

According to Hundley, deficiency judgments are on the rise state-wide. In Lee County, they've increased five-fold between 2008 and 2010, and are on track to increase twofold in 2011.

Do check out the story. Kris Hundley and Natalie Watson did honorable work here, detailing the particulars of individual cases, and even providing advice for ex-home-owners trying to evade deficiency judgments.

UPDATE: Deficiency judgments must be the coming thing, 'cuz just as the Times were publishing their piece, the Palm Beach Post's Kimberly Miller and Christine Stapleton were composing a similar story of their own, focusing on local cases. Read it here.

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