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REwired

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Opinion, commentary and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.
Lending

Federal employees have mortgages too

And they're beginning to worry about paying them

October 3, 2013

Mortgage industry experts have been all but quiet when asked about the government’s decision to shutdown as the nation nears its debt ceiling limit.

While the shutdown is expected to eventually delay the processing of mortgages, there’s one group that seems to be getting overlooked: federal employees, who are beginning to worry about their own mortgages.

While Congress dukes it out, trying to secure a last minute deal, those left unemployed on Capitol Hill are dealing with the harsh realities of paying bills without income.

If this drags on, they may be forced to consult home retention specialists.

The most beneficial step a federal worker or contractor can take if they fear missing a mortgage payment is to reach out early and receive proper assistance, according to the Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

"Many homeowners may be eligible for an unemployment forbearance, which will provide financial relief through reduced or limited payments during this stressful time," said Homeownership Preservation Foundation CEO Colleen Hernandez.

She added, "HPF’s housing counselors are available around the clock to help impacted homeowners understand the eligibility requirements and walk them through the process or they can call their loan servicer directly to inquire."

Unemployment forbearance is an agreement made between a mortgage borrower and their loan servicer to temporarily reduce or suspend monthly mortgage payments while they seek to restore their lost incomes.

At the end of the forbearance period, the borrower agrees to a restoration of normal payments and a plan to repay the amount that was not paid during the forbearance period — such as increasing the amount of monthly payments until the full debt is repaid, the organization said.

Just recently, Fannie Mae issued a directive to lenders on how to advise borrowers who are unable to make payments during the shutdown.

While this is a clear example of the servicing industry thinking ahead, there are too many outliers in the debate to know just how deep this problem will become.

It does beg the question: even with aid programs helping government employees, will such efforts be enough to withstand a prolonged government shutdown?

I’d say it’s rather doubtful. 

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