Mortgage Lenders Now Providing Payment Relief Due to Coronavirus

Last updated on December 28th, 2020

I will update this post as new information is made available, but we’re starting to see mortgage relief packages rolled out by all the major housing agencies.

Whether the government launches some sort of HAMP-esque program that goes beyond the usual loss mitigation options remains to be seen.

That may be dictated by how bad the coronavirus outbreak gets, and its eventual effect on the housing market.

Coronavirus Relief for FHA Loans

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which oversees the FHA home loan program, has halted foreclosures and evictions for the next 60 days as a result of COVID-19.

This applies to the initiation of a foreclosure and the completion of any foreclosures in process.

Additionally, lenders must cease all evictions of individuals living in an FHA-insured single-family property.

This guidance applies to both forward FHA loans and reverse mortgages, known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM).

With regard to mortgage payment relief, the FHA has called on loan servicers to offer its suite of loss mitigation options, including short and long-term forbearance options, along with mortgage loan modifications.

Coronavirus Relief for VA Loans

The VA has released a circular titled, “Foreclosure Moratorium for Borrowers Affected by COVID19,” which strongly encourages a 60-day halt on foreclosures and evictions beginning March 18th, 2020.

They have also encouraged holders of VA guaranteed home loans to extend forbearance to borrowers affected by COVID-19.

Loan servicers have been to told to evaluate the VA Loss Mitigation options outlined in Chapter 5 of the VA Servicer Handbook M26-4.

This may include the reapplication of prepayments to cure or prevent a loan default, and allows the terms of any guaranteed loan to be modified without the prior approval of the VA, assuming conditions in the regulation are met.

USDA Rural Development Response

First off, USDA Rural Development will continue to provide USDA home loans and grants to those in rural communities nationwide.

Additionally, they have granted authority to lenders that participate in their Single-Family Housing Guaranteed program to work with borrowers having difficulty making payments.

Lastly, RD will issue guidance to its Single-Family Housing Direct borrowers to ensure those in need of payment assistance are adequately reached.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Assistance Options

The pair, which back the vast majority of home loans, have both suspended foreclosure sales and evictions for the next 60 days.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will provide payment forbearance for up to 12 months.

Fannie Mae says it will either reduce or suspend borrower’s mortgage payments during that time.

Neither will assess penalties or late fees against borrowers.

Freddie Mac says forbearance is an option regardless of occupancy, meaning primary residences, second homes, and investment properties are all eligible for relief.

Additionally, both are suspending the reporting of delinquencies related to any forbearance, repayment, or trial plans to the credit bureaus.

So homeowners won’t have to worry about getting dinged by the credit bureaus as they seek assistance.

Boston Mortgage Relief

The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, has inked a deal with 12 banks and mortgage lenders that allows homeowners to defer mortgage payments for at least three months.

The institutions in question include Bank of America, Boston Private, Cambridge Trust Company, Century Bank, Citizens Bank, City of Boston Credit Union, Dedham Savings Bank, Eastern Bank, Mortgage Network, Inc., PrimeLending, Salem Five Bank, and Santander Bank.

The participating lenders will extend loan deferment if needed, and have also agreed to a collective goal of approving deferments within 21 days of application.

Only “essential paperwork” is needed from the borrower, and it will not be reported to the credit bureaus as being a late, nor will they will charge late fees.

Most importantly, once the deferment period comes to an end, the homeowner will not be required to pay the total deferment/forbearance amount in a lump sum.

Connecticut COVID-19 Mortgage Assistance

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has announced that his administration has reached an agreement with 50+ credit unions and banks to offer mortgage relief to homeowners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other states, there will be a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments and no foreclosures/evictions for 60 days.

Additionally, homeowners will get relief from any fees and charges for 90 days, and won’t suffer any negative credit score impact.

Nevada Mortgage Relief Measures

  • Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for duration of the State of Emergency
  • 90-day grace period on mortgage payments
  • Banks have agreed to work directly with customers to ensure no one pays a giant lump sum payment to get back on track

Governor Sisolak and State Treasurer Zach Conine have announced relief options for homeowners in the state of Nevada.

They say “a vast majority of lending institutions are offering homeowners facing financial hardships due to COVID-19.”

This includes a a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments, and more importantly, have agreed to “ensure that no one is hit with a giant lump sum payment if they need to stop making payments for a couple of months.”

“In many cases, these payments can instead be added onto the back end of a loan, so people can get back to work and get back on their feet.”

New Jersey Mortgage Grace Period

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced mortgage payment forbearance of up to 90 days for borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19.

  • 90-day grace period for mortgage payments
  • No negative credit impact for receiving assistance
  • No mortgage-related fees or charges for at least 90 days
  • Moratorium on foreclosure sales and evictions for at least 60 days

New York State Mortgage Assistance

In New York State, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order that provides mortgage relief, including a 90-day payment holiday to homeowners impacted by the novel coronavirus.

Here are the details:

  • Postpones or suspends any foreclosures
  • Waives mortgage payments for 90-days based on financial hardship
  • No negative reporting (late payments) to credit bureaus
  • Grace period for loan modifications
  • No late payment fees or online payment fees

Apparently, any missed monthly mortgage payments are being tacked on to the back of the loan. It’s unclear if this will effectively freeze the mortgage or result in a balloon payment.

Worldwide Response

Last week, Italy’s deputy economy minister announced that mortgage payments would be suspended across the entire country in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

While plenty of Italian homeowners might not actually contract the virus, the economic implications of a countrywide shutdown could affect their ability to make timely housing payments.

For example, with Italy effectively coming to a standstill, many homeowners may not be able to work until the lockdown is lifted.

It’s unclear who will be paid during this time. There are also longer-term layoffs to consider if businesses are permanently affected.

In the UK, similar measures are already being extended by individual banks, including TSB Bank, which is offering a “repayment holiday for up to two months.”

My understanding is this gives homeowners a two-month break before they must resume making timely monthly mortgage payments.

Similar moratoriums are being offered to mortgage borrowers by other British banks, and they’re also making it easier for customers to get access to their cash if need be.

U.S. Mortgage Lenders May Not Be Far Behind

  • Italian banks have already suspended mortgage payments nationwide
  • UK banks are now offering mortgage holidays to affected customers
  • Matter of time before U.S. banks and lenders extend similar assistance
  • If you need help paying your mortgage, contact your loan servicer and look out for news bulletins

While no major coronavirus restrictions have made it to the United States just yet, at least beyond some universities and other private institutions, there’s a chance we could experience a similar clampdown soon.

Really, it sounds more like a matter of when than if, despite no mandatory freedom of movement likely.

This is known as “social distancing,” designed to limit human-to-human contact and stop the spread of the fast-moving COVID-19.

Assuming that happens, there’s a good chance mortgage lenders will step in and offer temporarily relief for those affected.

Again, while the virus itself may not directly affect an individual homeowner’s health, disruptions in multiple industries could lead to layoffs or the inability to perform job duties.

Generally, when a natural disaster occurs, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD offer some level of assistance and/or guidance to loan servicers to ensure borrowers can get back on their feet, or avoid falling behind to begin with.

This may involve the suspension or reduction of mortgage payments for 90 days up to six months, depending on the circumstances.

They may also suspend eviction lock-outs on real estate owned (REO) inventory to avoid displacing tenants during what could be a sensitive time.

Tip: If you need assistance paying your mortgage at this time, be sure to keep an eye on the FHFA or HUD websites, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s, for any pertinent announcements.

Homeowners Are Helping Themselves to Lower Mortgage Rates

  • Record low interest rates lead to 55.4% increase in weekly mortgage applications, per MBA
  • Refinance share surged to 76.5% of total loan volume from 66.2% a week earlier
  • 2020 mortgage origination forecast revised up to $2.61 trillion
  • Industry group now expects refis to account for $1.23 trillion in volume, up 36.7% from earlier estimates

In the meantime, homeowners seem to be helping themselves by taking advantage of the record low mortgage rates also on offer at the moment.

Instead of asking for a payment holiday, borrowers are lowering their mortgage rates in droves via a traditional mortgage refinance.

This morning, the MBA reported that home loan applications surged 55.4% from a week earlier as refis jumped 79% to their highest level since April 2009.

Home purchase applications also rose six percent from a week earlier, a good sign in an otherwise uncertain time.

That pushed the refinance share of mortgage activity to 76.5% of total applications from 66.2% a week earlier.

The record low interest rate environment prompted the MBA to revise its origination forecast, forecasting total mortgage volume of $2.61 trillion this year, a 20.3% increase from 2019’s volume ($2.17 trillion).

Additionally, they expect home refinance originations to double their earlier projections, surging 36.7% to around $1.23 trillion.

Despite the unknowns in this ever-evolving situation, home purchase originations are still slated to climb 8.3% this year to $1.38 trillion.

While this is generally good news for the mortgage industry, it’s probably wreaking havoc on loan servicers and mortgage investors who are seeing prepayment speeds go through the roof.

Additionally, it’s going to make it difficult for mortgage companies to get their staffing right if mortgage rates all of a sudden U-turn, and in any case, once the party comes to an end.

Read more: How soon can I refinance my mortgage?

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgages in Forbearance Fell in January 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up all areas of the U.S. economy in a number of ways, and the mortgage industry has been no exception. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of mortgages in forbearance have increased significantly — due, in major part, to the high unemployment numbers as well as the federal relief programs meant to help protect homeowners who are struggling financially.

 While the forbearance and delinquency numbers in January 2021 look more optimistic than they did at other points in the past, experts still predict it will be a while before the rates return to pre-pandemic numbers. Here’s what you should know about this issue.

In this article

Current state of forbearance as of January 2021

According to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, about 5.46% of all mortgages — or roughly 2.7 million homeowners — were in forbearance during the second week of January, down slightly from 5.53% the week prior.

Forbearance numbers have ebbed and flowed over the past 10 months, in major part because of the economic changes caused by the pandemic. The latest decrease in forbearances came after a three-week increase caused by the economic slowdown in December.

There are still tons of people still struggling to make their mortgage payments, however, and two important federal relief programs are set to end soon — which could cause big issues for homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

The foreclosure moratoriums for Fannie Mae are set to end January 31, while the foreclosure protections for Freddie Mac loans are set to end on Febuary 28. Further compounding the issue is the fact that the deadline to request forbearance on a government-backed loan is currently February 28.

If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or another government agency and you’re still facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, be sure to request mortgage relief before the deadline. You can request up to 180 days of forbearance if you need it.

2020 forbearance trends and the COVID-19 pandemic

When the pandemic hit and unemployment numbers increased, many homeowners struggled to make their mortgage payments. In response, the federal government provided mortgage relief as part of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the bill was a provision to protect homeowners with mortgages that are backed by a government agency or government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Under the CARES Act, borrowers who fit the criteria couldn’t have their home foreclosed on. Those experiencing a financial hardship could also request forbearance in 180-day increments for a total period of 12 months.

During the first couple of months of the pandemic, the number of homeowners with forbearances grew rapidly. At the start of the pandemic in early March, only 0.25% of loans were in forbearance. By the first week of April, that number had risen to 3.74%.

The percentage of mortgage loans in forbearance peaked at 8.6% in June, representing about 4.2 million mortgages. While the numbers ebbed and flowed throughout the rest of 2020, the rate of mortgages in forbearance generally declined.

As unemployment and forbearance rates remained high throughout the year, government agencies extended deadlines on forbearance requests and extended foreclosure moratoriums. As of Jan. 2021, borrowers have until Feb. 28 to request forbearance on their government-backed loan, and their mortgage cannot be foreclosed on until the same date. For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, there is no deadline to request forbearance, but the foreclosure moratorium ends Jan. 31, 2021.

Despite the relief provided by the federal government, mortgage delinquencies still remain high. Part of the problem is that the federal protections only apply to those with a government or GSE-backed mortgage. As a result, many homeowners aren’t eligible, and some may not realize there are programs available to help.

[ Read: Best Refinance Rates ]

Before COVID-19, the number of mortgages that were delinquent was fairly steady at about 3.6%. By mid-2020, that number had risen to more than 8%. Mortgage experts expect that delinquency rates won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until early 2022.

How the housing market was affected by COVID and government forbearance programs

Despite the increase in unemployment and mortgage delinquencies throughout 2020, the past year has still been booming for the housing market.

First, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in 2020 to help keep the economy moving during the pandemic. As a result, mortgage rates have reached all-time lows over the past year, significantly increasing the demand for homes and refinances.

The public health crisis also caused many families to flee urban areas in favor of suburban neighborhoods or smaller towns. This pattern has caused housing demand and prices to spike in those areas due to an influx of new residents.

The government relief programs have also kept the housing supply low, despite the high demand. Thanks to the foreclosure moratorium and forbearance program, many homeowners have been able to stay in their homes when they otherwise may have had to sell. As a result, the housing market supply hasn’t increased like it generally does during an economic crisis.

What to expect for the rest of 2021

There’s no way to know exactly what is to come for the remainder of 2021. The past 12 months have been a tumultuous time for the economy as a whole, including the housing market.

The first thing worth noting is that many of the federal protections for homeowners are set to end soon. The foreclosure moratorium will end Jan. 31 for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Feb. 28 for mortgages backed by a government agency. Additionally, the deadline for homeowners to request forbearance from a government agency is Feb. 28.

Despite the protections currently in place, the delinquency rate for federally-backed loans has remained significantly higher than the rate for mortgages overall. Once the current relief programs end, it’s possible that many of the loans currently in forbearance will become delinquent, ultimately causing them to go into foreclosure.

[ Read: Best Investment Property Mortgage Rates ]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

FHFA announces further extension of COVID-related mortgage relief

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is providing an additional three months of forbearance to borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, totaling 18 months of relief due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The FHFA said Thursday that it was aligning its policies with the Biden administration to address economic burdens for homeowners due to COVID-19. The change comes nearly three weeks after the agency extended the total forbearance period to 15 months.

When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last year, it allowed borrowers with federally backed mortgages to request up to 12 months of forbearance — divided into two 180-day increments — if they experienced financial hardship.

In forbearance, a borrower is allowed to suspend payments by extending the loan’s terms. There is no set cutoff date for the 18-month forbearance period because borrowers have entered and exited forbearance at different times.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.

Bloomberg News

The FHFA also said Thursday that it was extending a moratorium on foreclosures and real estate-owned evictions until June 30 for loans backed by Fannie and Freddie. Because housing prices have jumped dramatically, borrowers are more likely to be able to sell their homes than go into foreclosure than in financial crisis in 2008, when many were underwater on their mortgages.

The foreclosure moratorium had been set to expire on March 31, but the FHFA is offering another three-month extension only for single-family mortgages backed by the government-sponsored enterprises. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties acquired by the GSEs through foreclosures or deed-in-lieu transactions.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced similar extensions of relief for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said in a press release. “Borrowers and the housing finance market alike can benefit during the pandemic from the consistent treatment of mortgages regardless of who owns or backs them.”

Roughly 2.6 million homeowners were in forbearance plans as of Feb. 14, representing 5.29% of loans serviced, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday.

The share of Fannie- and Freddie-backed loans in forbearance fell slightly to 2.97% last week, from 3.01% on Feb. 8, the MBA said. By comparison, 5.22% of all loans serviced are currently in forbearance plans, the MBA said.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

What is mortgage loan modification, and is it a good idea?

Trouble paying your mortgage? You have options

You might be wondering about mortgage loan modification if you’re:

  • Experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus
  • Having trouble making your monthly mortgage payments
  • Currently in mortgage forbearance but worried about what will happen when forbearance ends

The good news is, help is available. But mortgage relief options are not one-size-fits-all.

Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for a loan modification. Or, you might be able to pursue another avenue like a refinance. Here’s what you should know about your options.

Check your refinance eligibility (Feb 17th, 2021)


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What is loan modification?

Loan modification is when a lender agrees to alter the terms of a homeowner’s mortgage to help them avoid default and keep their house during times of financial hardship.

The goal of a mortgage loan modification is to reduce the borrower’s payments so they can afford their loan month-to-month. This is typically done by lowering the mortgage rate or extending the loan’s repayment term.

“A mortgage loan modification does not replace your existing home loan or your lender,” explains Karen Condor, a finance and insurance expert with Loans.org.

“However, it restructures your loan in the interest of making it more manageable when you experience difficulties in making your mortgage payments.”

How mortgage loan modification works

With a loan modification, the total principal amount you owe won’t change.

“But the lender may agree to a lower interest rate, reduced loan length, or a longer payoff period,” says Elizabeth Whitman, attorney and managing member of Whitman Legal Solutions, LLC.

Any of these strategies could help reduce your monthly mortgage payments and/or the total amount of interest you pay in the long run.

Modification can also include switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage and rolling late fees into your principal, adds Condor.

Note, loan modification is intended to make a mortgage more affordable month-to-month. But it often involves extending the loan term or adding missed payments back into the loan — which may increase the total amount of interest paid.

Refinancing into a new loan, on the other hand, often reduces the monthly payment and the total interest cost.

Loan modification vs. refinance

A refinance is typically the first plan of action for homeowners who need a lower mortgage payment.

Refinancing can replace your original loan with a new one that has a lower interest rate and/or a longer term. This may offer a permanent reduction in mortgage loan payments without negatively affecting your credit.

However, borrowers going through financial hardship might not be able to refinance.

They may have trouble qualifying for the new loan due to a reduced income, lower credit score, or unexpected debts (such as medical expenses).

In these cases, the homeowner might be eligible for a mortgage loan modification.

Loan modification is usually reserved for homeowners who are not eligible to refinance due to a financial hardship.

Mortgage modification is usually reserved for borrowers who do not qualify for a refinance and have exhausted other possible mortgage relief options.

“With a loan modification, you work with your existing bank or lender on modifying the terms of your existing mortgage,” explains David Merritt, a consumer finance litigation attorney with Bernkopf Goodman, LLP.

“If you’ve defaulted on your existing mortgage, chances are your credit has been negatively impacted to the point where a new lender would be wary to give you a new loan.”

“Typically a refinance is not possible in this situation,” says Merritt.

That means there’s no real contest between loan modification vs. refinancing. The right option for you will depend on the status of your current loan, your personal finances, and what your mortgage lender agrees to.

Check your refinance eligibility (Feb 17th, 2021)

Loan modification vs. forbearance

Forbearance is another way servicers can help borrowers during times of financial stress.

Loan forbearance is a temporary plan that pauses mortgage payments while a homeowner gets back on their feet.

For example, many homeowners who lost their jobs or had reduced income were able to request forbearance for up to a year or more during the COVID pandemic.

Unlike forbearance, mortgage loan modification is a permanent plan that changes the rate or terms of a home loan.

Forbearance and loan modification can sometimes be combined to make a more effective mortgage relief plan.

For instance, a homeowner whose income is still reduced at the end of their forbearance period may be approved for a permanent loan modification.

Or, a homeowner approved for mortgage modification may also have part of their unpaid principal forborne (put off) until the end of the repayment period.

Who is eligible for a loan modification?

To qualify for a loan modification, a borrower usually must have missed at least 3 mortgage payments and be in default.

“Sometimes, a borrower who has experienced financial setbacks, which makes a default imminent, can qualify for a loan modification. But not everyone in default under their mortgage is eligible for a loan modification,” explains Whitman.

“Borrowers whose financial setback is so severe that they will never be able to repay their mortgage won’t receive a modification, nor will borrowers who have the ability to make mortgage payments either from their income or savings.”

“Borrowers whose financial setback is so severe that they will never be able to repay their mortgage won’t receive a modification” –Elizabeth Whitman, attorney & managing member, Whitman Legal Solutions, LLC

In addition to providing a hardship letter or statement, prepare to provide proof of income, two years’ worth of tax returns, and bank/financial statements, says Condor.

Be aware, however, that your lender is not obligated to provide a loan modification.

“Once a lender has an executed contract — meaning the loan — they don’t have to change it. Many [homeowners] are denied a mortgage loan modification,” Gallagher explains.

“If the lender desires to modify the terms, per your request, then you have a starting point.”

How to request a loan modification

The process for requesting a loan modification will vary depending on who manages your loan.

The first thing you need to do is contact your loan servicer. This is the company to which you send payments, and the one you need to work with to determine your options for loan modification.

Some mortgages are managed, or “serviced” by the original lender. But most home loans are serviced by a separate company.

For instance, you may have received the loan from Wells Fargo, but now make payments to U.S. Bank.

The loan servicer is the company that takes your monthly mortgage payments; you can find yours by checking the name and contact information on your latest mortgage statement.

Many borrowers begin the process by sending a ‘hardship letter’ to their servicer or lender. A hardship letter is simply a note that describes the borrower’s financial difficulties and explains why they can’t make payments.

The lender will likely request financial information and documentation, including bank statements, pay stubs, and proof of your assets.

These documents will help your lender understand the full scope of your personal finances and determine the correct path for mortgage relief.

Mortgage loan modification programs

Your loan modification options will depend on the type of loan you have and what your lender or loan servicer agrees to.

Conventional loan modification

“Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private lenders of conventional loans have their own modification programs and guidelines,” says Charles Gallagher, a real estate attorney.

In particular, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer Flex Modification programs designed to decrease a qualified borrower’s mortgage payment by about 20%.

Flex Modification typically involves adjusting the interest rate, forbearing a portion of the principal balance, or extending the loan’s term to make monthly payments more affordable for the homeowner.

To be eligible for a Flex Modification program, the homeowner must have:

  • At least 3 monthly payments past due on a primary residence, second home, or investment property
  • Or; less than 3 monthly payments past due but the loan is in “imminent default,” meaning the lender has determined the loan will definitely default without modification. This is only an option for primary residences

Certain hardships can trigger “imminent default” status; for instance, the death of a primary wage earner in the household, or serious illness or disability of the borrower.

Unemployment is typically not an eligible reason for Flex Modification.

Borrowers who are unemployed are more likely to be placed in a temporary forbearance plan — which pauses payments for a set period of time, but does not permanently change the loan’s term or interest rate.

In addition, government-backed FHA, VA, and USDA loans are not eligible for Flex Modification programs.

FHA loan modification

The Federal Housing Administration offers its own loan modification options to make payments more manageable for delinquent borrowers.

Depending on your situation, FHA loan modification options may include:

  • Lowering the interest rate
  • Extending the loan term
  • Rolling unpaid principal, interest, or loan costs back into the loan’s balance
  • Re-amortizing the mortgage to help the borrower make up missed payments

In some cases where extra assistance is needed, FHA borrowers may be eligible for the FHA-Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP).

FHA-HAMP allows the lender to defer missed mortgage payments to bring the homeowner’s loan current. It can then request that HUD (FHA’s overseer) further reduce the monthly payment by opening an interest-free subordinate loan of up to 30% of the remaining loan balance. The borrower only pays principal and interest based on 70% of the balance, and can pay back the remainder upon a sale or refinance of the home.

Deferring this extra principal amount can help make it easier for FHA borrowers to get back on track with their loans.

FHA-HAMP is typically combined with one of the loan modification methods above to lower the borrower’s monthly payment.

Eligible FHA borrowers must complete a trial repayment plan to qualify for either loan modification or the FHA-HAMP program. This involves making on-time payments in the modified amount for 3 months straight.

VA loan modification

Veterans and service members with loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs can ask their servicer about VA loan modification.

VA loan modification can roll missed payments back into the loan balance, as well as other delinquent homeownership costs like unpaid property taxes and homeowners insurance.

After these costs are added to the loan, the borrower and servicer work together to establish a new repayment schedule that will be manageable for the veteran.

Note, VA modification is unique in that the interest rate might actually increase. So while this plan can help veterans bring their loans current, it won’t always reduce the homeowner’s monthly payments.

“For VA loan modification, several requirements apply,” notes Condor. She explains:

  • “Your VA loan must in default
  • You must have since recovered from the temporary hardship that caused the default
  • You must be able to support the financial obligations of the modified VA loan
  • And you must not have modified your VA loan in the past three years”

Some homeowners with VA loans may qualify for a ‘Streamline Modification.’

Streamline Modification does not require as much documentation as the traditional VA modification plan, but includes two extra requirements:

  • The combined principal and interest payment must drop by at least 10%
  • The borrower must complete a 3-month trial repayment plan to prove they can make the modified payments

Talk to your loan servicer about options for your VA loan.

USDA loan modification

USDA loan modification is for homeowners whose current loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A USDA loan modification allows missing mortgage payments (including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) to be rolled back into the loan balance.

USDA modification plans also allow a term extension up to 480 months, or 40 years total, to help reduce the borrower’s payments. And the servicer can lower the borrower’s interest rate, “even below the market rate if necessary,” according to USDA.

Servicers may cover up to 30 percent of the homeowner’s unpaid principal balance using a mortgage recovery advance.

Contact your loan servicer to find out whether you’re eligible for a USDA loan modification.

Is mortgage loan modification a good idea?

A mortgage loan modification is worth pursuing for the right candidates.

“A modification can give you a second bite at the apple and get you out of the default or foreclosure process, allowing you a chance to remain in your home,” says Merritt.

But caveats apply.

“Typically, a modification will take all of your missed payments and add those to the outstanding principal balance,” Merritt says.

Say your current mortgage has an outstanding balance of $300,000. Assume you missed $50,000 in payments. In this example, your modified balance would be $350,000, which is called ‘capitalization.’

“But imagine your home’s value is only $310,000,” adds Merritt. “Here, a modification would allow you to stay in your home and avoid foreclosure, but you would owe more than your house is worth. That would be a problem if, say, two years after modification you wanted to sell your home.”

Refinancing and other alternatives to modification

Loan modification isn’t your only option, thankfully.

Possible alternatives include refinancing, forbearance, a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Refinancing

As mentioned above, you should first check if you’re eligible to lower your interest rate and payment with a mortgage refinance.

You’ll have to qualify for the new mortgage based on your:

  • Credit score and credit report
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Loan-to-value ratio (your loan balance versus the home’s value)
  • Income and employment

It may be difficult to qualify for a refinance during times of financial hardship. But before writing this strategy off, check all the loan options available.

For instance, FHA loans have lower credit score requirements and allow higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios than conventional loans. So it may be easier to refinance into an FHA loan than a conventional one.

Streamline refinancing

Homeowners with FHA, VA, and USDA loans have an additional option in the form of Streamline Refinancing.

A Streamline Refinance typically does not require income or employment verification, or a new home appraisal. Even the credit check might be waived (though the lender will always verify you have been making mortgage payments on time).

These loans are a lot more forgiving for homeowners whose finances have taken a downturn.

Note, Streamline Refinancing is only allowed within the same loan program: FHA-to-FHA, VA-to-VA, or USDA-to-USDA.

Check your Streamline Refi eligibility (Feb 17th, 2021)

Other mortgage relief options

Refinancing typically requires a loan-to-value ratio of 97% or lower, meaning the homeowner has at least 3% equity.

However, “borrowers who have less than 3 percent equity in their homes may qualify for Fannie Mae’s HIRO program,” suggests Whitman.

This ‘High-LTV Refinance Option‘ is intended for homeowners with Fannie Mae-backed loans who owe more on their mortgage than the property is worth.

“Other choices for borrowers with little or no equity in their homes include a consensual foreclosure or a short sale, which involves selling the property for less than the outstanding mortgage amount.”

What should you do?

Whitman continues, “Any borrower who will struggle to repay their mortgage and other debts after a loan modification should consider whether it is better to dispose of their home and find a more affordable housing option.”

To better determine if a refinance or mortgage loan modification is the right strategy for you, consult with your loan servicer, an attorney, or a housing counselor.

Mortgage loan modification FAQ

What happens when you get a loan modification?

The goal of a loan modification is to help a homeowner catch up on missed mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. If your servicer or lender agrees to a mortgage loan modification, it may result in lowering your monthly payment, extending or shortening your loan’s term, or decreasing the interest rate you pay.

How do I get a mortgage loan modification?

Contact your mortgage servicer or lender immediately to alert them of your financial hardship and ask about loan modification options available. Be ready to provide all documentation requested, which can include financial statements, pay stubs, tax returns, and more.

How long does loan modification last?

Expect your loan modification process to take anywhere from one to three months, according to finance and insurance expert Karen Condor. Once your loan modification has been approved, the changes to your interest rate and/or loan terms are permanent.

Does loan modification hurt your credit?

A mortgage loan modification under certain government programs will not affect your credit. “But other loan modifications may negatively impact your credit and show up on your credit report. However, since your mortgage usually must be in default to request a modification, your financial difficulties are probably already on your credit report,” explains attorney Elizabeth Whitman.

Can you be denied a loan modification?

Yes. A mortgage loan is a contract, and the mortgage lender isn’t obligated to agree to a loan modification. “Borrowers whose financial situation is such that they will never be able to repay their mortgage loan, as well as borrowers who do not cooperate with lender requests, are likely to be denied a modification,” says Whitman.

How much does mortgage modification cost?

While there are no closing costs for a mortgage modification, your lender may charge a processing fee. “If your modification involves extending your loan’s term, that means you’ll pay more interest over the life of your loan,” explains attorney Charles Gallagher.

Do you have to pay back a loan modification?

Paying back a loan modification will depend on the type of modification you are given. “Your lender can apply a reduced interest amount to your loan’s principal on the backend that you must later pay back,” says Condor. “With a principal deferral loan modification, your lender reduces the amount of principal paid off with each payment. But the amount of principal your lender deferred will be due when your loan matures or the home is sold.”

Understand your options

Mortgage loan modification is typically reserved for homeowners who are already delinquent on their loans.

If you’re worried about mortgage payments, get ahead of the issue by checking your eligibility for a refinance or contacting your loan servicer about options before your loan becomes delinquent.

Many homeowners are facing financial hardship right now, and many lenders and loan servicers are willing to help. But help is only available to those who ask for it.

Verify your new rate (Feb 17th, 2021)

Source: themortgagereports.com

Are You a Homeowner Seeking Forbearance on Your Mortgage? Watch Out for These Red Flags

Homeowners are asking for breaks on their mortgage payments in droves, as millions of Americans face the prospect of unemployment or reduced income because of the coronanvirus pandemic. But requesting forbearance on your mortgage isn’t foolproof.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package requires servicers to provide forbearance — a temporary postponement of payments — to any homeowner with a federally-backed mortgage. Americans with other mortgages may also be able to receive forbearance at their servicers’ discretion.

Requests for forbearance have poured in. Forbearance requests grew by 1,896% between March 16 and March 30, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group that represents the mortgage industry. And before that, forbearance requests had increased some 1,270% between March 2 and March 16.

As consumers have rushed to call their servicer in search of assistance, call centers have been overwhelmed, leading to longer wait times to speak with a representative.

“If you are eligible for this and you need the help, take full advantage of the program,” said Rick Sharga, a mortgage industry veteran and founder of CJ Patrick Company, a real-estate consulting firm. “But similarly, if you don’t need the help, and if you can pay your mortgage, don’t try and game the system and make it harder for people who really do need the benefits to access.”

For those who have yet to get a forbearance agreement in place, here’s what you need to know:

‘Forbearance is not forgiveness’

To be clear, mortgage borrowers will still need to pay off their loan eventually if they receive forbearance.

“Forbearance is not forgiveness,” said Karan Kaul, a research associate at the Urban Institute, a left-of-center nonprofit policy group. “You still owe the money that you were paying, it’s just that there’s a temporary pause on making your monthly payments.”

‘Forbearance is not forgiveness. You still owe the money that you were paying, it’s just that there’s a temporary pause on making your monthly payments.’

Karan Kaul, a research associate at the Urban Institute

Under a forbearance agreement, a borrower can pause payments entirely or make reduced payments on their mortgage. Homeowners with federally-backed mortgages are eligible for up to 180 days of forbearance initially under the CARES Act. At that point, if they’re still facing financial difficulty, they can request an extension of up to another 180 days of forbearance.

The provisions in the stimulus package stipulate that during the forbearance period, mortgage servicers cannot make negative reports about the borrower in question to credit bureaus, including the three main ones, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Borrowers also will not owe any late fees or penalties if they are granted forbearance.

You need to know who your servicer is

Struggling homeowners won’t automatically receive forbearance. You need to request it from your servicer.

Mortgage servicers are the companies who receive your monthly payments. A homeowner’s mortgage servicer isn’t necessarily the same as their lender — many lenders sell the servicing rights for mortgages to other companies.

The first step to figure out who your servicer is would be to check your mortgage statement. If for some reason the information isn’t there, you can look it up by searching the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems website. Alternatively, you can check with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, if your loan is backed by one of them.

How do you know if you qualify?

To qualify for forbearance, a borrower must have a mortgage backed by one of the following federal agencies:

• Fannie Mae

• Freddie Mac

• The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Borrowers should avoid calling their servicers to find out if they’re eligible, Sharga said.

“Find out what you can before you try and reach your mortgage servicer, because they are overwhelmed with call volume right now,” Sharga said.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both have websites where you can check whether your loan is backed by one of them. You can access those websites here and here. Almost half of all mortgages in the U.S. are backed by Fannie and Freddie.

To find out if your loan is backed by the FHA, check the original closing documents or your most recent mortgage statement. If you pay for FHA Insurance, then that agency is backing your loan. Alternatively, your closing documents should include a HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) statement and a 13-digit HUD number.

Because the VA and USDA loan programs target specific borrowers, those borrowers should already know if they have loans backed by those agencies. In the event you are still unsure, you can call your servicer.

Those who aren’t eligible aren’t necessarily out of luck, though. Servicers for non-federally-backed mortgages may still be willing to provide forbearance to borrowers facing financial trouble right now.

Be prepared to answer some questions

You don’t need to provide documentation to prove your financial hardship at this time, but your servicer may have some questions to determine how much assistance they will offer you.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests being prepared to answer the following:

• Why you can’t make your payments?

• Is the problem you are facing temporary or permanent?

• What is the current state of your income, expenses and other assets, including money in the bank?

• Are you a service member with permanent change of station orders?

“Consumers should indicate they have had a hardship due to COVID-19 and ask about their forbearance options with the company servicing the mortgage loan,” said Chris Diamond, director of financial products at online mortgage lender Better.com. “They should ask how long of a forbearance they can qualify for as well as what their options are at the end of that forbearance period.”

Get your forbearance agreement in writing

The CFPB stresses that any borrower who has received a reprieve on mortgage payments should get their agreement in writing.

“Once you’re able to secure forbearance or another mortgage relief option, ask your servicer to provide written documentation that confirms the details of your agreement and that you’re clear on what the terms are,” the agency said on its website.

Having the agreement in writing will protect you if there are errors in your mortgage statement or your credit report.

Watch out for balloon payments

After a borrower has secured a forbearance agreement from their servicer, they should discuss repayment options.

“You don’t want a surprise like finding out that six months of deferred loan payments are all due immediately upon the end of the forbearance,” Sharga said. “Most people simply won’t have six months’ worth of mortgage payments available.”

Some borrowers have expressed concerns after being offered a balloon payment option like the one Sharga described. With a balloon payment, a borrower would pay back the entire amount owed for the forbearance period at once.

While a lender may offer a balloon payment as an option, there is no mandate that a borrower must repay in this manner, Kaul said.

Homeowners can and should aim to negotiate the best possible repayment options for them. “All those terms are negotiable,” Sharga said. “Be diligent, be steadfast and try and stand your ground.”

Beyond a balloon payment, servicers may offer to extend the term of the mortgage and tack on the missed payments at the end, so a 30-year mortgage would be extended by 4 months if that’s how much forbearance a borrower received.

There is no mandate that a borrower must repay what they owe in missed payments in one balloon payment after forbearance.

Alternatively, a borrower may also be offered the option to amortize the balance they owe over the life of the loan. This means they would repay a portion of the balance owed in addition to their usual monthly payments.

A borrower can request information on who owns their mortgage note, since the owner might be able to provide more relief options. Servicers must respond to these requests within 10 business days, said Andrea Bopp Stark, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

“If the servicer does not respond, the borrower should send another letter and seek legal assistance,” Bopp Stark said. “The servicer could be held liable for actual damages and up to $2,000 statutory damages for a failure to respond.”

If you’re still in financial trouble after forbearance, consider a loan modification

It’s too soon to tell whether 12 months of forbearance will be enough assistance for those who are among the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in recent weeks.

“The most beneficial option if the borrower might be out of work or impacted for an extended period is to request to modify the loan at the end of forbearance,” Diamond said.

Unlike forbearance, a loan modification involves a permanent change to the details of the mortgage. This can include adjusting the interest rate, extending the duration of the loan or deferring the amount owed until the end of the loan as a separate lien.

A servicer will determine whether or not a borrower qualifies for the modification.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Source: realtor.com

Mortgage Deferment and Mortgage Forbearance—Is There a Difference?

With finances in peril due to COVID-19, many homeowners are in search of mortgage relief. Two strategies that many borrowers are anxious to invoke right now are mortgage deferment and mortgage forbearance.

Both tactics allow a borrower to skip monthly payments for a set period. Depending on the lender, there can be subtle differences between the two terms.

“We are seeing the terms being used interchangeably,” says Sara Singhas, the director of loan administration for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

She adds that both tactics allow a temporary period during which a borrower need not make contractual monthly payments. The differences between the two strategies come at the end of that period.

“What happens at the end of the forbearance period is the amount of payments that you missed during that forbearance will be due in a lump sum,” says Singhas.

Sometimes, lenders will work with borrowers to structure a payment plan, instead of demanding a lump sum.

Deferment—especially special programs that lenders have introduced during the pandemic—often allow customers to repay the money over time or to add it to the end of the loan period.

Clearing up confusion about mortgage forbearance

“In the mortgage world, it’s very fluid … [but] what we hear more is the term forbearance,” says Mary Bell Carlson, a certified financial planner professionally known as Chief Financial Mom. “Overall, forbearance is saying, ‘Hey, something has happened, I cannot pay.’”

A book Carlson has dubbed her Bible of the financial world, “Surviving Debt,” by the National Consumer Law Center, makes no distinction between forbearance and deferment.

“They do not even use the word deferment in terms of a mortgage, everything is called a forbearance in this book,” she says.

If a lender does differentiate between the terms deferment and forbearance, the difference will be at the end of the loan period, according to Singhas.

Some borrowers will be able to add extra payments to the end of the loan or make other arrangements to spread out repayment, while others will not. Sometimes, payment terms involve a new loan or a rewriting the existing loan.

Mortgage loan originator Krista Allred says one differentiation can center on foreclosure proceedings and timing.

“Technically, a mortgage forbearance agreement is when you’ve possibly been late, and the lender agrees not to foreclose during that forbearance period,” says Allred. In this scenario, a borrower already has a history of nonpayment before entering into a forbearance agreement.

But with the pandemic only revealing its enormous scope within the past 30 days, many borrowers haven’t been late—yet.

However, because of sudden job loss or because of the quarantine, borrowers have besieged the phone lines of their lenders, to get out in front of the financial iceberg.

Contact your lender for mortgage relief

No matter what you call it, if borrowers ask for help during this crisis, many lenders are allowing them to miss payments and not charge them late fees or penalties.

“The definition really doesn’t matter. The moral of the story right now is to call your lender. Don’t just assume you can skip a payment. Call them, let them know, and make arrangements,” Allred advises.

Carlson struck the same chord and told us that borrowers shouldn’t get caught in the weeds about the semantics of forbearance versus deferment.

She says, “They just need to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey look, I’m in a bad situation, I’ve lost my job, and I think it’s going to be rough for the next three months.’ From there the lender can come back and say, ‘Here [are the] options.’”

Due to the current financial situation, the mortgage world is shifting. Options that weren’t on the table for borrowers a few months ago might be available now.

Singhas says the length of time that the forbearance could be extended and the options at the end of the term might be different. She adds that borrowers in good standing prior to the current crisis may able to do a modification wherein any monthly payments missed now are simply tacked on to the end of the loan.

Pressing pause on your mortgage

Whatever terminology your lender uses, it’s important for you to understand what is really happening with your loan. Nothing is free. You can’t expect to stop paying your mortgage forever.

“It’s not free mortgage payment, it’s not free money. [Forbearance] is temporarily hitting the pause button on your mortgage, and not having to make the payment,” Carlson warns.

“It does not necessarily pause the interest that is accruing, and it does mean that you’re going to have to make that principal and interest payment at a later date.”

Key questions to ask before seeking mortgage forbearance

When calling your lender, Carlson recommends asking:

  • What relief options are available?
  • Will interest continue being calculated during the length of time I am not paying?
  • Will there be any fees?
  • How will it be reported to the credit bureaus?
  • Do I still need to pay for my escrow to cover taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance?

Singhas says some lenders have decided to allow certain loan modifications. In some cases, they will allow the monthly payment to be changed later in the life of the loan, to include the amount missed during the forbearance.

She adds that the main confusion for consumers right now is the fact that most lenders will not necessarily require a lump sum payment after the forbearance period ends.

“I think some people are panicked that if they get a forbearance, they have to pay it all back immediately,” she notes.

“That’s one option, or they can enter into a payment plan if they can’t make the lump sum, and if they can’t make a repayment plan work, there are other options available to them.”

If you work out a forbearance or deferment plan with your lender and don’t just skip payments, it can protect your credit.

“It doesn’t show a positive or a negative, but it doesn’t show like a missed payment,” Carlson explains.

“So if you were to ignore it and just not pay anything and pretend it will go away, that’s absolutely going to affect your credit report in the long run. But the forbearance or deferment is a neutral. It’s not positive or negative on the credit report, but it’s a lot better than having missed payments on your mortgage.”

One caveat to keep in mind is that if you can pay your mortgage, pay it, and don’t ask for relief.

“It’s always better to make your monthly payment if you can,” Singhas says.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Source: realtor.com

The VA plans to help 60K veterans cover missed mortgage payments

The VA’s new mortgage relief plan

On December 10, the Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a new mortgage relief plan to help veteran homeowners who are behind on loan payments.

The VA’s new plan is targeted at VA loan holders who have struggled financially due to COVID-19. Its goal is to help them transition smoothly out of forbearance and back into regular mortgage payments.

To achieve this, the VA plans to cover missed payments on up to 60,000 VA mortgages that were put on hold due to COVID.

If that applies to you, here’s what you should know about the VA’s proposal.

Check today’s VA loan rates (Jan 23rd, 2021)

The VA plans to help homeowners in forbearance

The VA’s proposed mortgage relief plan is called the COVID–19 Veterans Assistance Partial Claim Payment Program.

If adopted, this plan will ease the repayment process for veterans and service members who have gone into loan forbearance.

VA loan forbearance

As a reminder, forbearance is when a homeowner agrees with their mortgage servicer to stop making home loan payments — or reduce them — as a result of COVID-19-related hardship.

Under the CARES Act, those with VA loans are able to request home loan forbearance until at least December 31.

But forbearance doesn’t stop money from being owed. It just delays payments.

When the forbearance period ends, the missed amount still has to be repaid.

Loan repayment after forbearance

Since the missed mortgage payments have to be made up, borrowers who have taken advantage of VA loan forbearance will face extra debt once they’re back on their feet.

Missed payments during forbearance can typically be repaid in a variety of ways.

  • The homeowner might have higher mortgage payments after forbearance until the missed sum is repaid
  • The missed amount might be added onto the mortgage loan, extending the repayment term (with interest)
  • The borrower might opt to ‘defer’ repayment until the loan is paid off, or the home is sold or refinanced

Many homeowners will not be in a position to repay additional debt, on top of regular mortgage payments, when forbearance ends.

That’s where VA assistance comes in.

The VA wants to provide homeowners with a highly affordable way to get back on track with their mortgage payments after COVID.

How veteran mortgage relief would work

The idea is that the VA will repay debt accrued on VA loans while in forbearance, through the December 31 deadline.

But the money offered by the VA is not a gift or grant.

Homeowners will still owe the money. But they’ll repay the VA instead of the mortgage lender. And the VA plans to offer very lenient terms for repayment.

  • Homeowners would have up to 60 days to defer repayment to the VA
  • The debt could be repaid over a period of up to 10 years
  • Interest rates on VA debt would be fixed at 1%

Thanks to the VA’s low-interest-rate offer, this would be a more affordable way to repay mortgage debt than paying it back to a lender at standard mortgage rates.

Homeowners would also have the option to defer their debt to the VA — meaning they don’t have to start making payments — for up to 5 years.

But be aware that if you choose to defer repayment, your payments will be higher once you start paying because the loan from the VA will accrue interest during that time.

Loan relief in the form of a second mortgage

Under this plan, the new loan would be in the form of a second mortgage. In other words, it would be a secured loan, with your home acting as collateral.

But don’t think of this particular second mortgage as a way to access cash. Because it’s not a traditional home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC).

The most you can borrow is the sum that you owe as a result of forbearance. And that will go straight into your mortgage account.

If a borrower were to fall seriously behind on their repayment to the VA, they could risk foreclosure.

However, the VA says, “One of the primary goals of VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Service is to help veterans who use their guaranteed loan benefit retain their homes and avoid foreclosure.”

In many cases, the VA will do all it can to help borrowers make payments and stay in their homes.

Who might be eligible for assistance?

Under the VA proposal, the new program is seen as a last resort. So, if there are existing assistance options open to you, you may have to take them.

But, if you owe money due to forbearance, and you and your mortgage servicer agree the VA’s proposal is the best way forward, you’re likely to be in — subject to a few conditions.

These conditions include:

  • You skipped at least one monthly payment as a result of an agreed CARES Act forbearance plan, and you’re still be at least one payment behind
  • You have sufficient income to make payments on your first and second mortgages post-forbearance
  • You have an adequate debt-to-income ratio — you have enough income to cover the mortgages plus make payments on your other debts
  • You must occupy the home on which the mortgage is secured (Unless you’re a recognized exception, such as someone on active service)
  • There can be only one claim per eligible borrower
  • The amount that can be borrowed under the proposal is capped at 15% of the balance remaining on your main VA loan

In addition, you must have been in good standing with your VA loan prior to the COVID pandemic.

Borrowers must have been less than 30 days late (preferably on time) with their mortgage payments as of March 1, 2020.

These conditions should all be low bars for most applicants.

How to apply for the new VA mortgage relief plan

Remember, the VA’s new relief plan is not available yet. It’s still in the proposal stage. But keep an eye on the VA to see when it will be passed.

Once it’s available, veteran homeowners will apply for VA loan relief through their mortgage servicers. The servicer should get everything set up.

Unlike with a new mortgage or refinance, there’s no point in shopping around for the best deal. That 1% interest rate is set by the VA and is invariable.

The documentation process should be easier than when you got your existing VA loan. But you will have to provide documents to show you meet the loan’s conditions (see below). And there’ll be some signing to do.

After you’re approved and the new loan is in place, you simply pay your mortgage servicer each month for both your first and second mortgages. The servicer would collect and distribute payments to the VA.

What if you still need forbearance?

When legislators passed the CARES Act back in March, most assumed the pandemic would effectively be over by December 31, 2020.

But at the time this was written (in mid-December), it was worse than ever.

Some borrowers will just now be starting to need forbearance. And others will only be only partway through requiring it.

Mortgage servicers are still highly likely to provide VA loan forbearance after December 31.

But any forbearance obligations after that date won’t be covered by the VA’s current relief proposal. So work with your servicer to agree on a realistic repayment schedule.

Still, there’s a real chance the VA will later update its policies to help those who acquire forbearance debts in 2021.

When will the VA’s new plan start?

There is no official start date for the VA’s new mortgage relief program yet.

At the time of writing, it’s just a proposal and is yet to be approved.

The VA has asked interested parties for comments by January 8. And it currently proposes a closing date for new applications of September
9, 2021.

Assuming the program is approved, watch out for a launch announcement in January.

Verify your new rate (Jan 23rd, 2021)

Source: themortgagereports.com

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages

  • Coronavirus
  • Mortgage

Coronavirus cases are increasing at a phenomenal rate and sending the economy into free-fall. Every industry will be affected in some way, but the housing market could be one of the hardest hit. Borrowers are struggling to pay their mortgages, lenders are seeing far fewer applications, and we could be just around the corner from a housing crisis akin to the decline of 2008.

So, what’s happening here, how is COVID-19 affecting mortgages and are we likely to see any major issues on the horizon?

How Will COVID-19 Impact Mortgages?

In early March, mortgage rates dropped to an all-time low, hinting at things to come. The rate for a 30-year fixed-term mortgage fell to 3.29%, compared to March of 2019 when rates were 4.14%. That may not seem like much of a difference, but the difference between 3.29% and 4.14% on a $200,000 30-year mortgage is around $35,000.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg; the start of the problem.

Experts predict that rates will continue to fall as we progress through 2020 and COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the US economy.

As noted in our recent guide to Coronavirus Mortgage Relief, lenders are already providing lenders with debt relief options to help them manage their mortgage in this difficult time. Foreclosure is expensive and it’s an expense that banks and credit unions can’t afford right now. They want homeowners to pay their bills and keep their homes and they will do everything they can to make that happen.

The federal government is also lending a helping hand by way of the CARES act, and we could see more significant moves on behalf of lenders and the government before the year draws to a close.

In other words, although big moves have been made and huge changes have taken place, all of this could pale in comparison to what happens when the pandemic is eradicated and the rebuilding process begins.

Can You Benefit from this?

If you’re a homeowner tied to a high-interest rate, you could benefit from the current reduced interest rates by refinancing your mortgage. You could do that now and capitalize on the all-time low rates mentioned above or wait to see what happens in the next few months.

In any case, you can get a much lower rate than what you already have and potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

It’s not about profiting from a bad situation, it’s about making life easier for yourself so you can navigate through this chaos. If your monthly mortgage payment is reduced, you’ll have more money in your pocket every month, which means you can put more cash towards unsecured debts and your monthly grocery bill.

It also reduces your chances of defaulting and being foreclosed upon in the future.

COVID-19 and the Housing Market

In the spring of 2019, the housing market was booming. It was a good time to invest in bricks and mortar and it seemed like there were some bright years ahead for homeowners and investors. 

In 2020, the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic fell on the country and now, a year on from that boom, the housing market has ground to a screeching halt. No one is selling because no one is buying. The market hasn’t necessarily crashed, but it has paused, and that could cause some huge problems in the near future.

What happens to all the homeowners who were selling their homes before this crisis and wanted to sell during? As soon as the pandemic fades away, they’ll all list their homes at the same time, and they’ll no doubt be joined by countless other homeowners who are selling because of the pandemic.

Once the market reopens, it will be flooded with homes for sale. At the same time, homeowners once ready to buy will now be struggling to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, while others will be hesitant of buying and will want to bide their time. Sellers will get desperate, prices will drop, and it will be a buyer’s market.

It’s hard to predict just how far house prices will fall or even if they will fall at all, but if the last few months are anything to go by, it’s fair to assume that the damage will be considerable.

Could it be a Seller’s Market?

While it seems most likely that post-pandemic USA will be a buyer’s market, it could also go the other way. Millions of Americans could be looking to purchase homes in 2020. If all of them are waiting for the end of the pandemic in the hope that the prices will be lower and the interest rates more favorable, they could overload the market.

Buyers may also be desperate to sink their money into bricks and mortar, believing it to be a safe investment and protection against any future economic issues. After all, when you rent, you’re always at the mercy of the landlord and have few guarantees that your home will still be your home months down the line.

That’s a scary thought in the middle of a pandemic, where it may be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to move into another property on short notice.

To remedy this, renters may be desperate to buy and may jump into the housing market as soon as the chaos dies down. A sudden rush of buyers will send the market in the opposite direction, allowing sellers to jack up their prices. 

COVID-19, Mortgages, and the Future of the Housing Market

Most of which we discussed above is speculation. We can predict the likelihood of it being a buyer’s market and of interest rates falling based on everything that has happened thus far, but we can’t say that it will happen for certain.

COVID-19 has made life very unpredictable. In December 2019, when word of the first Chinese cases began to filter to our shores, few could have guessed that just 3 months later, the world would be in lockdown, everyone would be going crazy for toilet paper, and people would be dying in their droves. 

At the beginning of the outbreak, when Europe was on its knees, President Trump was dismissive of the risks and suggested that everything would be okay, the US would be safe, and the virus would be fleeting. A few weeks later, the United States became the worst affected country and fatalities entered double figures.

It’s a novel pandemic that few predicted, and no one was prepared for, and as things stand it’s less about fighting the disease and more about avoiding it. 

As a result, we can’t be certain that the housing market will decline or that mortgage rates will drop. We just have to wait and see and hope that we all get through this with our lives, properties, and professions intact.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Post-2008 Standardized Practices Have Helped Manage Forbearances

Fannie Mae said that the standardization of servicing
standards that followed the 2008 housing crisis
appears to have helped the
industry manage the recent flood of COVID-19 forbearance plans. The company included
a series of questions about forbearance management in its September Lender
Sentiment Survey and has now released a special report on the responses.

Servicers had to move quickly to implement the forbearance
programs, which were first announced by the GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and
by FHA but were then expanded and mandated by Congress under the CARES Act.
They also had to manage the loans in forbearance, continue remittances to
investors, and make insurance and tax payments out of escrow accounts. As the plans
had three-month terms, borrowers had to be contacted to do renewals or to implement
loan modifications or other exit strategies.

In its survey Fannie Mae asked questions to clarify the challenges
servicers faced with the forbearances. It also asked executives who worked in
mortgage servicing during the 2008 housing crisis to assess, separately, what
aspects of servicing they found more challenging and less challenging compared
to that experience.

According to the report, the leading challenges identified
by servicers were: “1) keeping up with policy changes from investors; 2)
customer-facing staffing capacity; and 3) training the customer-facing staff to
provide guidance to homeowners on mortgage relief and loss mitigation options.”
Technology and the process for homeowners to request assistance were much less
of a concern. Nearly 70 percent of mortgage servicers said they had a website
with mortgage relief information
and payment assistance requests and nearly 60
percent reported that the website helped reduce forbearance related call center
volume.

The biggest challenges of interacting with homeowners, were:
1) explaining clearly to homeowners what their options were for repayment after
forbearance; 2) explaining clearly to homeowners the potential implications of
taking a forbearance plan; and 3) periodically checking in with homeowners to
see if they were ready to exit forbearance.

A plurality of those respondents who had servicing
experience in 2008 found the recent situation to be less challenging, including
data and technology related standards, the process by which homeowners
requested assistance and more generally “helping homeowners overcome hardship
and stay in their homes.” The one area in which respondents said it was more
challenging in 2020 regarded “keeping up with policy changes from investors.

Fannie Mae conclude that common standards in servicing practices established
after the housing crisis provided the foundation for minimum borrower outreach expectations.
While the standards played an important role in providing the industry a leg-up
during this crisis, it was widely recognized among servicers that the
challenges faced this year required a different response.

Even though the sudden surge of demand for
mortgage assistance has receded, many borrowers are still in need of help in accessing
the relief and loss mitigation options available. Servicers are prioritizing
the need for a timely response and for communicating clearly with borrowers. Fannie
Mae says that more fully coordinated efforts to align policy and direction
across the industry can help servicers respond to the current crisis and future
crises with even greater effectiveness.

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

Coronavirus Mortgage Relief: What Homeowners Need to Know

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act—also known as the CARES Act—is a $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the federal government. The goal of the CARES Act is to provide relief for individuals and businesses struggling with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns. One of the components of the CARES Act is coronavirus mortgage relief.

This mortgage relief provides some options for homeowners, with federally backed mortgages, who can’t keep up with mortgage payments. The CARES Act also provides some relief for renters. Here’s a breakdown of some of the relief options available under the coronavirus mortgage stimulus.

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Who Is Covered by Federal Coronavirus Mortgage Relief?

The mandates under the CARES Act only cover mortgages that are federally backed. Federally backed loans are those that are guaranteed, insured or made by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the Department of Agriculture or meet one of the following other requirements:

  • They’re insured by the Federal Housing Administration or under the National Housing Act.
  • They have been purchased or secured by either the Federal National Mortgage Association or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
  • They’re guaranteed by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992.

If you’re not sure if your mortgage is federally backed, call your mortgage lender to find out. With around 65% of mortgages protected by the new mandates, there’s a good chance yours is one of them.

Are People Without Federally Backed Mortgages Out of Luck?

The coronavirus mortgage stimulus mandated by the CARES Act doesn’t cover mortgages that aren’t backed by the federal government. But that doesn’t mean your mortgage company won’t offer some relief.

States are also enacting relief plans, and many include working with mortgage providers to provide some relief for homeowners. And many mortgage companies already have contingencies for working with people who are struggling with mortgage debt. You may be able to apply for relief that lets you skip a few months of payments or restructure your mortgage to make it more affordable. Contact your mortgage provider to see what is available for your situation.

Another option to consider is refinancing your mortgage to get potentially better rates. That can drop the total monthly mortgage payment.

What Should You Do If You Can’t Pay Your Mortgage Because of COVID-19?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes that it’s important to continue paying your bills, including your mortgage, if you can. If you’re struggling to make those payments because of income loss due to COVID-19, however, you should contact your lender as soon as possible. Waiting to deal with the problem can result in late payments, extra fees and negative items on your credit report.

What Mortgage Relief Is Offered Under the CARES Act?

The CARES Act provides two protections to help homeowners who are dealing with financial distress because of the coronavirus and related economic issues. The first is a foreclosure moratorium. That means that lenders of these loans cannot take action on foreclosures or begin new ones for at least 60 days from the time the act was signed in March 2020. This protection is also only available for federally guaranteed loans.

The CARES Act also provides a right to forbearance for covered mortgage holders. Forbearance is the option to stop making scheduled payments on a loan without incurring negative consequences. In this case, the payments would likely be added to the end of the loan, so you would simply pay them later.

You can request a forbearance of 180 days. You can also request a second forbearance of 180 days if you are still experiencing COVID-19-related financial distress. That’s up to 12 months of mortgage payment relief for those who qualify.

How Do You Get Coronavirus Mortgage Relief?

Start by calling your mortgage service provider and explaining your situation. Whether or not your mortgage is federally backed, this is the first step.

Be prepared to be on hold for a while. Many other people are attempting to access the same help, so you could wait for a while to speak to a customer service representative. You should also be prepared with the following information:

  • The reason you can’t pay your mortgage as scheduled
  • How long you may be in this situation
  • Your current income and expenses
  • Information about current assets, such as how much you have in the bank

Ask what options you have for mortgage relief. Then, follow any instructions provided by your lender for how to apply for the relief.

What Relief Do Renters Have Under the CARES Act?

The CARES Act also provides some relief for renters. For 120 days from March 27, 2020, landlords of certain types of properties can’t begin eviction procedures or charge fees because someone hasn’t paid their rent. The mandate covers all federally financed rental units. That accounts for around 28% of all rental properties in the nation.

Again, you should continue to pay your rent if you can. If you can’t, talk to your landlord immediately to find out what arrangements might be possible. But know that if you’re in a federally financed property, you can’t be evicted during this time.

Other Coronavirus Rent Relief Options

You may be able to create a partial payment plan with your landlord. If your landlord can’t or won’t work with you, reach out to your bank to find out about emergency COVID-19 loans. Many are offering short-term loans of up to $3,000 to provide financial relief to those impacted by the pandemic.

What Should You Do After You Receive Coronavirus Mortgage Relief or Work Out a Deal With Your Landlord?

Get any relief deal in writing. If there are errors or misunderstandings about it in the future, you can refer to the document.

If you get mortgage relief, still read your mortgage statement every month. That will help you see that the mortgage company is upholding their end of the agreement.

Whatever relief you get, consider monitoring your credit. That way you know if anyone has incorrectly reported a missing or late payment on your credit report. You can challenge the accuracy of a new negative item—which can cause your credit to be lower and impact the financial options you have in the future.

Consider signing up for your free Credit Report Card. You get your credit score and personalized recommendations on how to improve your score in the future.

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Source: credit.com