Bank of America has given homeowners facing foreclosure a reason to get out and get paid with a new pilot program that offers owners up to $20,000 for short selling homes instead of letting them fall into foreclosure.
Raul Zayas bought his two-bedroom Miami Springs home in 2005 for $450,000. Today it is worth $209,203 -- less than half the purchase price.
"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," Zayas said.
Keller Williams Realty agent Melanie Hyer introduced the new program to her client, Mr. Zayas, this week.
"It will benefit the home sellers, it will benefit the buyer and it will benefit the court systems that have been way too bogged down with all these foreclosures," said Hyer
To qualify, homeowners must secure a buyer before November 30 and close before August 31, 2012. The amount awarded to the buyer depends on the value of the home and the length of delinquency. Short selling also lessens the blow to a homeowner's credit.
Bank of America says it helps homeowners leave with dignity.
"A lot of times they're really upset and they'll trash the homes, they'll rip out kitchen cabinets they'll flush concrete down the toilet pipes," Hyer said.
"It's bittersweet but I'm very grateful to Bank of America," said Zayas.
Mr. Zayas' realtor says the home is now up for sale for $200,000.
"I think I'm going to move to south beach, do a condo," said Zayas.
Bank of America says this pilot program is only being rolled out in Florida since the state has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. If successful, it could be expanded to other states.