Are you struggling to meet your monthly mortgage payments? If so, you’re not alone. Between the impact of COVID-19 and fluctuating inflation concerns, many homeowners are struggling to meet their financial obligations. In fact, records show a 115% increase in the number of home foreclosures in the United States from 2021 to 2022. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize there are various programs available to help them avoid losing their homes. This article covers the home affordability programs offered that may be able to help you avoid foreclosure or lower your monthly mortgage payments.
In This Piece
Finding Mortgage Relief Options
During the pandemic, the government created numerous home loan programs. These programs can help individuals and families overcome financial hardships. Each program has different eligibility requirements, but the home must be your primary residence. Many of these programs are also for homeowners with federally backed mortgages, such as VA, USDA, or FHA loans.
Most of these programs are for people who already have a home and have concerns about paying their mortgage. Those looking to buy their first home may wonder, “How do I know if I can afford a home?” The first step is to conduct a free credit check to find out what your credit score is.
How Can I Save My Home From Foreclosure?
The government has several foreclosure assistance programs to help you avoid losing your home. These government programs may be able to pay a portion of your overdue mortgage payments or pause these payments until you’re back on your feet.
It’s important to explore all your options to determine how these programs can help. You can start by contacting your lender to see what options they have available.
Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program helps eligible homeowners impacted by COVID-19 avoid foreclosure. This program can give homeowners money to make past-due mortgage payments and other related costs, such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, home repairs and utility bills. The goal is to ensure homeowners financially impacted by the global pandemic don’t lose their homes.
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While the distribution of these funds began in 2021, many states still have funds available. To be eligible for the HAF Program, homeowners must earn less than 100% of the median income of the United States or less than 150% of the median income for their specific area (whichever is higher).
You can check your income eligibility with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In most cases, homeowners aren’t expected to repay these funds. However, you are expected to continue making on-time payments.
This program is only for those who already own a home. If you’re considering purchasing a home, you want to make sure you have enough money in savings. How much money you need to buy a house depends on various factors, such as your down payment and closing costs.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted to provide economic assistance to individuals and families affected by the pandemic. For eligible homeowners, this act gives them the ability to request forbearance from their mortgage servicer or lender. A forbearance enables homeowners impacted by COVID-19 to pause or reduce their regular mortgage payments for a set period of time.
With the CARES Act, you can request an initial forbearance of up to 180 days. If necessary, you can also request an extension of up to 180 days. The maximum forbearance amount is 360 days.
You’ll need to make up these missed payments—but not in one lump sum. Most lenders allow borrowers to pay this back in installments or to defer these payments to the end of the loan. However, it’s important to understand your obligations prior to entering into a forbearance agreement.
Under the CARES Act, only homeowners with federally backed loans, such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA, VA and USDA loans, are eligible for guaranteed forbearance. Homeowners with private loans should check with their mortgage servicer or lender to see if forbearance is available.
The CARES Act program is ideal for homeowners who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments. To be eligible for this program, the global pandemic must have financially impacted you. However, no documentation is required to prove this impact.
To see if you qualify, reach out to your specific mortgage servicer or lender. You should find this contact information on your latest mortgage statement.
Refinance with Your Lender
Refinancing is another option homeowners should consider. Depending on the specifics of your current home mortgage, you may be able to obtain lower monthly payments. Fortunately, the recent housing boom has significantly increased home values for many people. This means homeowners may qualify for refinancing after just a few years of homeownership.
Homeowners with an FHA, a VA, a USDA or another federally backed loan may qualify for a Streamline Refinance process. With this process, eligible homeowners can refinance their home mortgage without a credit check or proof of employment. In fact, with a Streamline Refinance, you may not even need to go through the appraisal process. This means you may be able to refinance your home even if you have little or no equity.
Even if you have a private loan, you may be able to refinance your home loan to lower your monthly payments. If you’re not able to refinance your current home loan, you may be able to request a loan modification. For example, you may be able to change the terms, interest rates or structure of your current mortgage.
When seeking a new home mortgage, it’s important to understand how credit works when buying a house. Before you start the process, you should request a free credit score.
What Other Options Do I Have?
If you’re struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments or looking for a way to lower your monthly payments, compare your home affordability options. Be sure to talk to your mortgage servicer or lender to see what options are available.If you’re considering refinancing your current mortgage, be sure to compare various lenders. Compare current mortgage rates now.