More than 3 million homeowners are worried about their ability to make their next mortgage payments, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey. And time is running out for them to apply for COVID-related mortgage forbearance.
Borrowers with FHA loans, USDA loans, or VA loans have until Sept. 30, 2021, to request an initial COVID-19 forbearance. There is no deadline to request an initial COVID-19 forbearance for homeowners with loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
COVID-19 forbearance programs were introduced as part of the CARES Act in March 2020 to keep people in their homes during the pandemic. Over 9 million households have taken advantage of a COVID-19 forbearance plan since March 2020. To request mortgage forbearance, contact your loan servicer to discuss what options are available for you.
COVID-Related Forbearance Deadline
The forbearance plans available to you will depend what type of mortgage you have. All federally-backed loans qualify for special COVID-19 forbearance, which has a streamlined application. “It’s a fairly easy process,” says Rod McGinniss, senior vice president of business development at GreenPath, a nonprofit organization and housing counseling agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) network. “In some cases you can do it online … [and] there’s no paperwork required if it’s an FHA, VA, [or] USDA loan.”
For mortgages backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the forbearance application process could vary from one loan servicer to the next, but typically is just as easy. But even with those loans, if you call your servicer and explain that you’ve been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the process for entering forbearance typically won’t require a lot of paperwork.
For home loans that aren’t backed by the government, such as jumbo loans and other types of non-comfroming loans, you’ll need to call your mortgage servicer and ask what your options are. It’s likely that your servicer has some type of forbearance available. Regardless of your individual circumstances it’s important to contact your loan servicer to discuss your options.
|Loan Type||Deadline to Request an Initial Covid Forbearance|
|FHA Loan||Sept. 30, 2021|
|VA Loan||Sept. 30, 2021|
|USDA Loan||Sept. 30, 2021|
|Freddie Mac||No deadline|
|Fannie Mae||No deadline|
|Other Loans||No mandated forbearance option, varies by loan servicer|
If you’re unsure what type of loan you have you can contact your loan servicer and ask. You can also enter your information here to see if you have a Freddie Mac loan, and here to see if you’ve got a Fannie Mae loan. You could also search the Mortgage Electronic Registration System.
For those entering into forbearance plans right now, be sure to clarify with your loan servicer how long your forbearance period will last because it will depend on your personal situation. Your forbearance can be for up to 12 months, but it’s typically in three- to six-month chunks and it varies from servicer to servicer, McGinniss says. That means you’ll need to contact your mortgage servicer to request a forbearance extension every 3 to 6 months if you are unable to resume making regular monthly payments.
What to Know About Forbearance
When you enter a mortgage forbearance plan your monthly payments are paused, but they will eventually need to be repaid. In most cases, you won’t need to make one lump-sum payment to cover the missed payments when your forbearance ends. But the options you have for exiting forbearance can vary depending on your situation and loan type. For more information on exiting forbearance and navigating your options, read our guide to forbearance repayment options.
It won’t negatively impact your credit score
As long as you have requested and entered a COVID-related forbearance plan before you stop making mortgage payments, it won’t negatively impact your credit score. So it’s important to talk with your loan servicer before you miss any payments. If you don’t reach out to your mortgage servicer and fall behind on your mortgage payments it could eventually lead to foreclosure and severely damage your credit and personal finances.
You’ll still owe taxes and insurance
If you have an escrow account set up, then part of your monthly payment is set aside for expenses such as property taxes and home insurance. When you enter a mortgage forbearance plan, it doesn’t put a pause on your tax bill or homeowners insurance premiums. So have a discussion with your loan servicer or a HUD-certified housing counselor about how to manage these additional costs. Some states have property tax or homeowner insurance relief programs in place, which a local housing counselor can help you navigate.
Other Help Available for Homeowners
Almost $10 billion was allocated for the Homeowner Assistance Fund under the American Rescue Plan Act to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. These funds are being distributed through state-level programs, most of which are still in the process of getting up and running. “Some of those funds are available, [but] in most cases, not yet,” McGinniss says. “But they will be available in the next probably two to four months or so.”
For free foreclosure prevention counseling you can also reach out to a local HUD-certified housing counselor or call the 995Hope hotline. These organizations can help you to understand all of your options and even help apply for aid once it becomes available. For assistance with paying for food or other bills, call the 2-1-1 hotline to get connected with local organizations that can help.