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Crowds likely at ‘Save the Dream’

A record number of desperate borrowers have registered for a traveling mortgage relief marathon that “sounds too good to be true.”

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s Save the Dream Tour opens 9 a.m. Thursday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, offering thousands of struggling homeowners a chance to modify their loans – at no cost.

The event, which offers free counseling and face-to-face contact with lender representative, runs 24 hours a day. Doors close at 8 p.m. on April 19.

Bruce Marks, CEO of the Boston-based nonprofit, said Wednesday morning that a company record 15,000 had already registered for Thursday’s event.

“We’ve had a huge response,” he said, even though the tour made a stop in West Palm Beach just last February.

Darren Duarte, spokesman for NACA, said the overwhelming number of people who showed up for help in Palm Beach County led the tour, which makes stops around the county, back to South Florida.

“During the last day the crowd was extremely large and we got to see a lot of people but there were a lot of people we didn’t get a chance to see,” Duarte said about the February event. “So we saw there is still a need here and a demand here.”

More than 24,000 applied for mortgage relief at the Palm Beach County event, leading to nearly 11,000 modifications, Duarte said.

Greg Calley said he was among those who benefited. The American Airlines mechanic said he was poised to short-sell his Jupiter townhome after a year of trying unsuccessfully to work with Chase to modify his loan, which he struggled to pay.

Then he heard about Save the Dream.

“I thought it was too good to be true,” he said, echoing a common skepticism about whether the nonprofit really can help mortgage holders receive a free, same-day loan modification.

But Calley said that by the time he left the Palm Beach event, his monthly payment was $1,000 cheaper and his interest rate reduced by 4.5 percentage points.

The tour’s arrival in South Florida comes on the heels of a month that set a new South Florida record for property repossessions in March, with 3,707 in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, according to a report by real estate consulting firm CondoVultures Realty.

Those who attend the workshop are encouraged to register and are urged to bring pay stubs, tax forms and other financial documents.

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