Skip to main content

Foreclosures During COVID-19

House & Apartment

This article answers some common questions about mortgages and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forbearance can pause mortgage payments to help you get caught up. You must talk to your lender to get forbearance.

You can also apply for payment assistance through the Texas Homeowners Assistance Fund Program or through local emergency assistance programs.

Do I still have to make mortgage payments?

Yes. There are no rules allowing people to just stop paying mortgages. If you are going to have trouble making a payment, try to work out a plan with your loan servicer. You may be able to get a forbearance that allows you to suspend payments for an agreed upon time. You may also be able to get help through the Texas Homeowners Assistance Fund Program.

Watch out for scams!

Be aware that there are scams posing as aid programs, government programs, class action law suits, and more. Some of these scams can hard to tell apart from a genuine opportunity. Be wary of anyone claiming to be from a third-party loan-modification company, anyone who contacts you out of the blue, and any offer that seems too good to be true. Falling for a scam can put you in debt and even cause you to lose your home.

HUD and its partners put together these anti-scam resources. It is important to review these resources so you can protect yourself against scam activity.

Know it. Avoid it. Report it.

How do I get forbearance?

Forbearance is when your servicer pauses or lessens your payments. Ask your lender or mortgage servicer about this option.

Many private lenders and servicers will work with you if you ask for forbearance. It is best to ask before you miss any payments.

Servicers for FHFA (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and FHA (HUD) mortgages must give you a six-month forbearance upon request. These borrowers can ask to extend the forbearance for an additional six months. If their hardship is still not resolved, the borrower can then ask for up to two three-month extensions. The total amount of forbearance for these borrowers is capped at 18 months. 

To find out if Fannie Mae owns your mortgage, go to

To find out if Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, go to

To find out if you have an FHA mortgage, call HUD at 1-877-622-8525 or look up your lender on the HUD website. Many reverse mortgages are FHA mortgages.

You can also ask your loan servicer if you have a federally-backed mortgage.

See this FAQ from Lone Star Legal Aid for more details about the foreclosure moratoriums, including tips on how to ask your loan servicer if your mortgage qualifies.

Remember that you must ask your loan servicer for forbearance to get it. If you need a forbearance and Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac hold your mortgage, contact Fannie Mae at 800-232-6643 and contact Freddie Mac at 800-373-3343. 

It is also very important to note that if you are not in forbearance, you still owe mortgage payments even if you qualify for foreclosure protections. This means that even if the government order applies to your home, you could still lose your house for nonpayment when the pause on foreclosures ends. Your lender or servicer could also report you to credit agencies for missing payments even if it is not currently allowed to foreclose. If you cannot make a payment, it is vital that you try to work out a forbearance agreement with your lender and to get the agreement in writing.

If you have trouble making payments, you can always contact your lender or servicer and ask for forbearance, a payment plan, or some other arrangement to help you stay in your home. Even if the law allows your lender to foreclose, lenders and servicers may still be willing to work with you.

How do I know if my mortgage qualifies for federal COVID-19 protections?

Fannie Mae: You can check to see if you have a Fannie Mae loan at or call 800-2FANNIE (800-232-6643).

Freddie Mac: You can check to see if you have a Freddie Mac loan at or call or call 800-FREDDIE (800-373-3343).

Federal Housing Administration: The FHA is a program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, so you likely have an FHA loan if your loan statement mentions HUD. You can look up your lender or servicer on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's site at to see if your loan servicer is in the FHA list.

Others: If your loan statement does not make it clear whether any of the qualifying federal agencies have an interest in your loan, contact your loan servicer.

How do I ask my lender or servicer to work with me?

If you can’t make your payment, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible to discuss any options that may exist. (Your loan servicer is where you send your mortgage payments.) The servicer might work with you even if your mortgage does not qualify for federal protections.

  • If possible, contact your loan servicer before you miss any payments. 
  • Loan servicers are very busy right now, so be prepared to wait on the phone for a while. In some cases, it might be more efficient to go through their website.
  • Tell the loan servicer that you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ask that any late fees be reversed. Ask for “forbearance.” By granting forbearance, the lender or loan servicer can defer mortgage payments and waive late fees. At the end of the forbearance period you may have to pay the past-due balance in a lump sum unless you qualify for a loan modification or other change to your mortgage terms. Be sure to ask if there is an option to add missed payments monthly to the end of the term instead of having to pay them all at once. Forbearance is not automatic and not guaranteed.
  • Be sure you understand what the forbearance will include. Ask the lender or loan servicer:
    • How many months’ payments will you postpone?
    • When will the deferred payments be due?
    • Will the missed payments be repaid over a long time, rather than all at once? Be wary of owing large lump-sum payments at the end of the forbearance period.
    • Will they reverse late fees?
    • Will the lender stop any negative credit reporting for the deferred payments?
  • Get all lender promises to you in writing.
  • Make sure your lender has an updated address where you can receive mail, or request communications through an online account that you can check regularly.
  • You may have to submit a written application for assistance. Continue to maintain regular contact with your servicer about any missing items until you receive a letter stating that your application is complete.

You can also use this online tool from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to help you figure out how to ask your servicer or lender for mortgage relief. The information is also available in PDF format and in Spanish (Spanish PDF).

Will getting forbearance hurt my credit?

Getting forbearance under federal COVID-19 protections should not hurt your credit rating. Under these protections:

  • If you are current on payments and get forbearance, your credit report will show that you remain current until forbearance ends.
  • If you are delinquent and get forbearance, your credit report will show that you remain at the same level of delinquency until you catch up on payments or forbearance ends. For example, if you are 30 days late and you get forbearance, your credit report will show you as 30 days late until you catch up or forbearance ends.
  • If you are behind on payments but catch up during your forbearance period, then your credit report should update to reflect your account status as current.

Although forbearance does not currently hurt your credit score, there will still be a note on your credit report that says you received forbearance. This could impact your ability to refinance in the future.

Even if you are protected, be sure to check your credit report often to make sure that it is accurate. Transunion, Experian, and Equifax will all provide free weekly credit reports through April 2021.

For more information about forbearance and credit reporting under the CARES Act, see Enforcing the CARES Act Credit Reporting Protections from the National Consumer Law Center.

Can I get help paying my mortgage?

The statewide Texas Homeowners Assistance Fund exists to help those behind on their mortgage payments. It can also help with property taxes, property insurance, and HOA fees. Apply today.

Additional Resources

The Texas Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program has federal funds to help those who cannot pay their mortgage due to COVID-19. These funds are available through local programs.

List of programs and where they operate.

Search by county. (You will need to download the Excel spreadsheet and type your county.)

For best results, look at both the program and county lists.

List of Lenders Offering Assistance in Response to COVID-19

Bank forbearance information and contact information. Note that this list is not complete. Contact your lender or loan servicer even if they are not listed here.

  • Ally Bank: Call 877- 247-2559. 
  • Bank of America: Call 800-669-6607. 
  • Chase is taking customer requests for mortgage assistance. Call 1-800-848-9136 or contact them online at For military activated due to disaster: call military services hotline at 1-877-469-0110. 
  • Citibank offers a range of hardship programs through our service provider, Cenlar FSB. Please contact them at 800-2CENLAR (800-223-6527) or 855-839-6253. 
  • Comercia Bank: Call 888-444-9878.
  • East West Bank offers assistance for mortgage customers. Go to their website to learn how to apply.
  • Fifth Third Bank: Call the Fifth Third hardship line at 866-601-6391.
  • HSBC: Call 855-806-4657.
  • Huntington National Bank offers help on all consumer loans, including mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, credit cards, and debit cards. Go to their website for information on how to apply.
  • M&T Bank offers assistance for mortgage and home equity customers. Go to their website to fill out an application.
  • PNC Bank: Call 1-888-762-2265. 
  • Regions Bank: Call 1-800-748-9498.
  • Truist (BB&T/SunTrust): Call 1-800-443-1032.
  • Union Bank offers mortgage payment forbearance, as well as help with small business loans, credit cards, and bank fees. Call 1-800-237-0561 or go to their website for more information.
  • U.S. Bank: Go to their site for more information and to apply.
  • Wells Fargo: Call 1-800-219-9739.

I'm not sure who owns my mortgage loan. How do I find out?

See this article from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for tips on how to find out who owns your mortgage.

I asked my lender for forbearance and I didn't like the terms they offered.

Some lenders are more helpful than others. Some, for example, might allow you to go into forbearance and add any missed payments onto the end of your loan term. That is helpful.

Other lenders, though, might demand that you make up multiple payments immediately after (or even before) your forbearance period. Not so helpful.

Remember that this is a negotiation. If you do not like the terms your lender offers you, then you can call them back later and ask if they have decided to give you better terms. 

I told my bank I would not try to get forbearance. Is that binding?

Probably not. If you signed a form that said you do not intend to ask for forbearance, you can still ask for forbearance under federal COVID-19 protections -- especially if you have lost your job or have less income than when you originally borrowed.

My forbearance is ending. What will happen?

That depends on your mortgage. Many people will start paying again as normal and make up the missed monthly payments at the end of the loan. Most federal lenders follow this procedure.

If your loan is backed by the Fair Housing Administration, you will have two additional options:

  1. If you can resume normal payments: If you can resume payments, you will have the option to make a special arrangement that puts past missed payments aside. The missed payments can be repaid later with zero interest when the mortgage ends, including when the home is sold or refinanced. This option is called the COVID-19 Recovery Standalone Partial Claim.
  2. If you cannot resume normal payments: You may be able to reduce your monthly payments by modifying to a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. The option is called the COVID-19 Recovery Modification.

If your mortgage is backed by the FHFA (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), VA, or USDA, you may be able to modify your arrangement to reduce payments by up to 20%. The FHFA also allows borrowers to extend forbearance by six months per request, capped at a total of 18 months.

If you have a private lender and servicer, then your forbearance agreement will decide what happens. Some private lenders might make you pay all missed payments immediately. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requires mortgage servicers to work with most borrowers to try to avoid foreclosure, so you may be able to modify your contract. Contact your servicer to discuss what options may be open to you.

See this guide from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for more information.

Foreclosure Rules

For a general layperson's overview of foreclosure rules, see the Foreclosure Fact Sheet.

Additional Information

You can find additional information about mortgages and foreclosures during COVID-19 below:

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs: Foreclosure Prevention page and HOPE hotline: 1-888-995-4673 

Video: Executory Contracts

Some people buy a home through a long-term executory contract instead of taking out a mortgage. Buyers have fewer rights in an executory contract, but there are still protections. Watch this video from Lone Star Legal Aid to learn what rights homebuyers have under executory contracts.

Mortgage Relief Online Tool

You may be unsure how to best contact your mortgage servicer or lender. If so, you can use this online tool from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to help walk you through the process.

The tool is also available in Spanish.

Related Articles