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Foreclosures during COVID-19

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

Do I still have to make mortgage payments?

Yes. As of yet, there are no rules allowing people to stop paying mortgages. If you are going to have trouble making a payment, try to work out a plan with your loan servicer.

I heard the federal government has stopped foreclosures. Is this true?

Yes, in cases where the federal government has a financial interest in the property. This amounts to about two-thirds of all mortgages nationally. The CARES Act suspended foreclosures on federally held mortgages through May 17, 2020. You can also request up to 12 months of forebearance if your property qualifies. This includes mortgages that were securitized and purchased by the federal government, which is common. You may qualify for these protections if your property meets fairly broad CARES Act requirements.

For 1-4 family properties, Under Section 4022 of the CARES Act, foreclosure protections apply to property that is:

  • Insured by the Federal Housing Administration under title II of the National Housing Act;
  • Insured under section 255 of the National Housing Act;
  • Guaranteed under section 184 or 184A of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992;
  • Guaranteed or insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • Guaranteed or insured by the Department of Agriculture;
  • Made by the Department of Agriculture; or
  • Purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. 

The above list includes Federal Housing Administration loans, Fannie Mae loans, Freddie Mack loans, federally backed reverse mortgage loans (HECM), VA mortgage loans, USDA mortgage loans, and Indian Home Loans.

For properties designed to house five or more families, Section 4023 of the CARES Act protects virtually any mortgage that the federal government has any stake in whatsoever. That includes any mortgage which "is made in whole or in part, or insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted in any way, by any officer or agency of the Federal Government or under or in connection with a housing or urban development program administered by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or a housing or related program administered by any other such officer or agency, or is purchased or securitized by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation [Freddie Mac] or the Federal National Mortgage Association [Fannie Mae]."

Remember that you must ask your loan servicer for forbearance to get it. If you need a forbearance and Fannie May 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 you still owe mortgage payments even 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 have trouble making payments, contact your lender or servicer and ask for forebearance, a payment plan, or some other arrangement to help you stay in your home. Lenders and servicers are encouraged to work with you, if possible, during this time of hardship.

 

How do I know if my mortgage qualifies for CARES Act protections?

 

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

Freddie Mac: You can check to see if you have a Freddie Mac loan at https://ww3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup/ 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 https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/lender/lenderlist 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 lender or loan servicer as soon as possible to discuss any options that may exist. A lender might work with you even if your mortgage does not qualify for federal protections.

  • If possible, contact the lender or loan servicer before you miss any payments. 
  • Tell the lender or 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. Usually at the end of the forbearance period you must pay the past-due balance in a lump sum unless you qualify for a loan modification or other change to your mortgage terms. 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?
    • 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.

Does my county protect against foreclosures?

Bexar, Harris, and Hidalgo counties have passed temporary rules that may help protect you against foreclosures or from having your foreclosed property sold at auction. 

See the University of Texas' Entrepreneurship and Community Development's site for more details: https://sites.utexas.edu/covid19relief/foreclosure-protections/.

List of Lenders Offering Assistance in Response to COVID-19

The below private lenders and servicers have offered to work with borrowers. Note that this list is not complete. Contact your lender or loan servicer even if they are not listed here.

  • Ally Bank will defer mortgage payment up to 120 days. Interest will accrue, but no late fees. Call 877- 247-2559. 
  • Bank of America will defer mortgage payments and home equity lines of credit (added to end of the loan). They will also pause foreclosure sales, evictions and repossessions. Call 800-669-6607. 
  • BMO Harris has flexible payment plans and fee waivers available. Apply at https://www.bmoharris.com/main/personal/financial-relief-request-form/.
  • Charles Schwab Bank offers payment forebearance up to 90 days. Go to https://www.schwab.com/faqs#beacon-deck--60341 and scroll down to "Covid-19 Impacts and Other FAQs."
  • Chase is taking customer requests for mortgage assistance. Call 1-800-848-9136 or contact them online at chase.com/digital/resources/coronavirus/mortgage. 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 offers deferrals. Call 888-444-9878 for residential mortgage options. See their website for more details.
  • East West Bank offers assistance for mortgage customers. Go to their website to learn how to apply. (Go here for small-medium business assistance.)
  • Fifth Third Bank offers payment forbearance with no late fees for 90 days on mortgages and home equity lines of credit. Will suspend all foreclosure activity on homes for the next 60 days. Call the Fifth Third hardship line at 866-601-6391.
  • HSBC offers assistance with mortgage and home equity loan payments. 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 offers help for customers affected by the virus who are encountering hardship can call 1-888-762-2265. 
  • Regions Bank offers up to 90 days mortgage payment deferrals or extensions. Go to their website for more details.
  • Truist (BB&T/SunTrust) offers a minimum of 90 days forebearance. Call 1-800-443-1032 to apply. See their see their FAQ for more details.
  • TD Bank offers to defer loan payments and waive late fees. Go to their website for more details.
  • Union Bank offers up to three months 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 offers up to 90 days mortgage payment forebearance. Go to their site for more information.
  • Wells Fargo has offered to suspend foreclosure sales and evictions for residential customers. For payment options, call 1-800-219-9739.