From Fortune.com – Original article can be found here
By Chris Morris
As the economic impacts of the coronavirus
pandemic begin to hit home, many Americans are worried
about how they’ll make their mortgage payments, especially if they’ve been furloughed or laid off from their jobs.
The good news is mortgage lenders are quickly making accommodations. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac
both have ordered lenders to be more flexible with borrowers, reducing or suspending payments for up to 12 months. That action alone covers half of the country’s home loans.
Other mortgage lenders are likely to follow suit eventually. But if your lender hasn’t set new policies yet and you’re facing an immediate mortgage crisis, there are steps you can take.
First off, and most important, don’t just stop paying your mortgage. Reach out to your lender and work with them to create a payment plan. That’s as easy as making a phone call.
Most lenders will offer a forbearance. That’s something to be cautious of, however.
A forbearance often only kicks payments down the road. So while you might not be able to pay a mortgage for several months, when that time period is over, you could be expected to deliver all the missed payments as well as the current one in a lump sum. For many people, that could be a devastating blow.
Check with your lender to see if this might be the case. Both Freddie Mac
and Fannie Mae
are ordering lenders to work with borrowers on a permanent plan to maintain or reduce monthly payments as necessary.
Check if you have a Fannie Mae loan
A better bet is to request a mortgage modification. This enables you to skip payments for a set period, then pay them back in a variety of different ways.
Some mortgage companies will spread the missed payments out over several months. Others, in the best-case scenario, will add the missed months to the end of your mortgage, extending the life of the loan, but not creating a financial hardship for you.
In the meantime, foreclosure sales and evictions in Freddie Mac– and Fannie Mae–owned homes have been halted until at least May 17. And delinquent payments will not be reported to credit bureaus.
Lender mortgage deferment plans
Major mortgage lenders are handling deferment requests in different ways. The best idea is to reach out to your lender directly. Their mortgage-assistance websites can also offer some basic information.
The bank says it will review your loan for options including a repayment plan, forbearance, or a loan modification.
Bank of America
The financial institution has paused foreclosure sales, evictions, and repossessions and says it is working with customers.
Customers can call 800-869-3557 to discuss their options.
The bank has specialists standing by at 800-222-5522.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—The IRS defers 2020 tax payments
by 90 days owing to the coronavirus
—Close to retirement and panicking? How to avoid locking in losses
—It’s time to start preparing your personal finances for a recession
—5 burning questions (and answers) about the Fed’s emergency rate cut to 0%