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Paying Missed Mortgage Forbearance Payments

June 1st, 2020 at 7:00 am

If you receive forbearance on your mortgage payments under the CARES Act, when do you have to catch up on those missed payments?  

 

Last week we presented the new law allowing forbearance—skipping payments—on federally backed mortgages during the pandemic. Basically, if you’ve been financially affected by the pandemic you can request and receive a 6-month forbearance on payments. This can be extended another 6 months if the declared emergency continues at that point.

The obvious question this raises is when do these missed payments need to be paid. This is the topic of today’s blog post.

Major Confusion about Timing of Repayment

The CARES Act provided what is essentially a right to forbearance on federally backed mortgages. But CARES doesn’t say a word about the terms for payment of those payments missed during the period of forbearance.

There are several possibilities potentially available for paying the missed payments:

  • in a lump sum at the end of the forbearance period
  • through payments spread over a period of months beginning after the forbearance period
  • in a lump sum at the sale or refinance of the home
  • through extending the length of the mortgage at the back end

The differences in these options are huge. Assume, for example, that you have a monthly mortgage of $1,100. (That’s the current national median mortgage amount.). If you get a 6-month forbearance, that could mean a lump sum payment of $6,600 due at that time. For most people coming out of a financially challenging time, coming up with that money would be impossible. Even if the amount due was spread out over a year or several years, many would not have this extra money, on top of their regular mortgage, each month.  Paying the missed payments by extending the length of the mortgage is much easier. So is paying at the time of sale or refinance of the home.

Unfortunately Forbearance Can Be Complicated

The foremost federal agency tasked with protecting consumers is the appropriately named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It says the following about mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act:

  • Forbearance doesn’t mean your payments are forgiven or erased. You are still required to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future.
  • Make sure you understand how the forbearance will be repaid. There can be different forbearance programs or options, depending on the type of your loan.

For example, if you have a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, or USDA loan, you won’t have to pay back the amount that was suspended all at once—unless you are able to do so.

At the end of the forbearance, your options can include paying all of your missed payments at one time, spread out over a period of months, or added as additional payments or a lump sum at the end of your mortgage.

So, a big part of the confusion is that different loans have different options for paying the missed payments.

The Fannie Mae (FNMA) Example

Among all the federally-backed mortgage holders Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) “is the largest backer of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.” Already as of May 1, 2020, more than 1 million Fannie Mae mortgages were in forbearance. Many more were expected during the month of May. So by way of example let’s see how Fannie Mae allows customers to deal with payments missed because of forbearance.

Here is their recent announcement: Fannie Mae reminds homeowners they are not required to repay missed payments all at once. It’s main message:

At the end of the forbearance plan, the homeowner will be provided with several options from their mortgage servicer for making up the missed payments and will not be required to pay everything back all at once.

This announcement contains a link to their separate KnowYourOptions.com website, which provides more information on the post-forbearance options.

One practical source of information is this COVID-19 Forbearance Script that Fannie Mae has their mortgage services use with homeowners. It provides this script in order “[t]o continue to ensure clarity and transparency for mortgage servicers and homeowners alike.” It’s an interesting and informative read.

If You Have Another Federal Agency’s Mortgage

If your mortgage is instead owned or backed by one of the following agencies, here are similar resources for you:

Pandemic Mortgage Forbearance

May 25th, 2020 at 7:00 am

Mortgage delinquencies skyrocketed in April. One big reason: the pandemic CARES Act provided for extraordinary mortgage payment forbearance.  

 

Epic Increase in Mortgage Delinquencies

The number of home mortgages that became delinquent in April was largest one-month increase in U.S. history. 1.6 million mortgages current in March were not paid in April, according to Black Knight, a mortgage data provider.

For some perspective, the percentage of all mortgages that became delinquent nearly doubled in that one month—from 3.39% to 6.45%. This percentage increase was also the largest in history. It broke the last record monthly percentage increase set in 2008, during the Great Recession. The April increase was nearly 3 times the monthly increase back then. This is in spite of the reality that the Great Recession was an epic mortgage crisis.

The size of April’s increase reflects the unprecedentedly sudden economic effects of the pandemic—the self-induced shut-down. 

It was also substantially fed by the mortgage relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) Act passed by Congress in late March. As of May 19, 2020 more than 4.75 million mortgages had entered into forbearance—authorized deferred payment—plans. Black Knight Press Release, May 22, 2020.

So homeowners are clearly taking advantage of mortgage forbearances. Should you, too? It’s been nearly two months since the CARES Act became law, a good time to review its mortgage benefits. Here is what it provided.

CARES Applies Only to Federal Mortgages

At the outset be aware that CARES applies only to federally- owned or -backed mortgages. About three-quarters of all mortgages are federally owned or backed by a federal agency or entity. These include U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Direct  and USDA Guaranteed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) (includes reverse mortgages) ), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Fannie Mae (check here to see if your loan is backed by Fannie Mae) , Freddie Mac (check here to see if your loan is backed by Freddie Mac).

Also check out the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s How can I tell who owns my mortgage?

If You Don’t Have Federal Mortgage

Contact your mortgage servicer if you have a mortgage not owned or backed by a federal agency or entity. Financial regulators have urged all financial institutions to work with borrowers in this extraordinarily disruptive time. Interagency Statement on Loan Modifications…, April 7, 2020.  

Here’s a list of some of the pandemic-related services offered by a huge number of the nation’s banks. Many include references to mortgage payment deferrals and forbearance.

CARES’ Mortgage Relief Options

For federally owned or backed mortgages, the CARES Act provided two separate forms of relief. These included a short moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance of monthly payments.

The foreclosure moratorium was so short that it’s already expired. It was in effect for only 60 days starting from March 18 through May 17, 2020. During this period CARES prevented the starting or completion of a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure. CARES Section 4022(c)(2).

The forbearance part of the law is the focus of the rest of this blog post.

Mortgage Servicer “Shall Provide the Forbearance”

The CARES law is quite straightforward. The mortgage servicer (the entity you make mortgage payments to) “shall… provide the [requested] forbearance”:

  • to a borrower who “submit[ted] a request”
  • including an “affirm[ation] that the borrower is experiencing a financial hardship during the COVID–19 emergency”              

The servicer can’t:

  • require “any additional documentation … other than the borrower’s attestation to a financial hardship caused by the COVID–19 emergency”
  • charge any “fees, penalties, or interest (beyond the amounts scheduled or calculated as if the borrower made all contractual payments on time and in full under the terms of the mortgage contract)”
  • require that the mortgage be in any particular “delinquency status” in order to provide the forbearance

CARES Section 4022 (b) and (c)(1).

Length of Forbearance

“Upon a request by a borrower for forbearance… such forbearance shall be granted for up to 180 days, and shall be extended for an additional period of up to 180 days at the request of the borrower, provided that, at the borrower’s request, either the initial or extended period of forbearance may be shortened.”

CARES Section 4022 (b)(2).

There’s a potentially important timing condition when the borrower submits the extension for an additional 180 days of forbearance. “[T]he borrower’s request for an extension [must be] made during the covered period.” CARES Section 4022 (c)(1). “Covered period” is a phrase used earlier in the Section, referring almost certainly to the officially declared national “COVID-19 Emergency.” That is, the borrower must submit the request for a 180-day extension while this emergency is still in legal effect.

After Getting Your Mortgage Forbearance

The CARES Act does not say anything about the timing for repayment of the deferred payments. That crucial issue is the topic of our next blog post.

 

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