Real Estate

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issue relief policies in wake of devastating California wildfires

Victims will be eligible for up to 12 months of mortgage forbearance

California’s wildfires have ravaged the state claiming the lives of 44 people and destroying more than 100,000 acres.

The devastation has come primarily from the Butte, Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires.

As of yesterday, reports indicated that $2.6 billion in residential properties were at risk in the Butte Fire and $21.3 million worth of residential properties were in Hill Fire’s path.

Recent reports now say that Camp Fire has become the deadliest fire in California’s history, taking the lives of 42 people and burning more than 7,000 structures. Most of these properties happen to be residential homes.

In response to this threat, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reminding servicers of mortgage assistance options available for victims of these destructive fires.

Fannie Mae’s Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Officer Carlos Perez said the company’s thoughts are with the families and communities affected by the fires.

Fannie Mae borrowers who have been  impacted by the wildfires are eligible to stop making mortgage payments for up to 12 months, during this time they will not incur late fees or have delinquencies reported to credit bureaus.

“Fannie Mae and our lending and servicing partners are focused on ensuring mortgage assistance is available during this challenging time," Perez continued. “It is important for those in the area to focus on their safety, first and foremost, and we encourage homeowners impacted by the fires to contact their mortgage servicer for assistance as soon as possible.”

Freddie Mac borrowers who live or work in areas that have been presidentially declared Major Disaster Areas and have access to federal individual assistance programs are eligible for Freddie’s disaster relief options. 

However, in areas where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to make individual assistance available, mortgage servicers are encouraged to leverage Freddie Mac’s short-term forbearance programs for those affected by the fires, according to the company.

Freddie Mac’s Vice President of Single-Family Servicer Performance Management Yvette Gilmore said safety is the top priority for those in the path of these deadly California wildfires.

“Once safely out of harm’s way, we strongly encourage homeowners whose homes or places of employment have been impacted by these dangerous fires to call their mortgage servicer—the company to which borrowers send their monthly mortgage payments—to learn about available relief options. We stand ready to ensure that mortgage relief is made available,” Gilmore concluded.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac relief options eligible for single-family mortgages include:

  • Servicers are authorized to suspend or reduce a homeowner's mortgage payments immediately for up to 90 days without any contact with the homeowner if the servicer believes the homeowner has been affected by a disaster. 
  • Servicers must suspend foreclosure and other legal proceedings if the servicer believes the homeowner has been impacted by a disaster.
  • Waiving assessments of penalties or late fees against borrowers with disaster-damaged homes; and
  • Not reporting forbearance or delinquencies caused by the disaster to the nation's credit bureaus. 

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