Hurricane Dorian ripped its way through the Bahamas, then making its way as a Category 5 hurricane across the U.S. East Coast last week.
Now, homeowners are stuck with what’s left of their properties. In light of the natural disaster, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have offered homeowners up to 90 days of mortgage forbearance. Forbearance and delinquencies also will not be reported to the credit bureaus.
In an interview with HousingWire, Fannie Mae Vice President for Housing Access, Disaster Response and Rebuild Michael Hernandez said that up to 12 months of mortgage forbearance will be tacked on to the end of a mortgage, so homeowners can focus on spending money on rebuilding their homes.
“One out of every three mortgages is financed by Fannie Mae and most markets are impacted by any type of natural disaster – earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane – Fannie Mae’s got a significant interest in helping those borrowers, and help those communities recover as quickly as possible,” Hernandez told HousingWire. “Our focus is, how do we get borrowers and the communities back on their feet as quickly as possible, back on their own or rebuilding their homes, so that they can continue to preserve that community.”
Some homeowners could also face scammers trying to capitalize on the storm.
Homeowners should be skeptical of fees and contracts, or even signing over the title of a property, as this may signal a scammer, according to Hernandez.
“No reputable service is asking for that information,” Hernandez said. ”If they encourage the homeowner to stop making mortgage payments, that’s not a good thing.”
Before the storm, CoreLogic estimated that about 668,052 homes would be exposed to the storm surge, facing a reconstruction cost of around $144.6 billion.
Hernandez said that tens of thousands of Fannie Mae borrowers have been affected by storms in 2017 and 2018. Anyone affected by the storms can forbear mortgages.
Beyond that, Fannie Mae also offers an “extended mod,” which was reissued earlier this year. The program recognizes underinsured people and what they need in order to rebuild from what they’ve lost, including loan modifications, forbearance, help from the Disaster Response Network, along with ground presence and service work.
Hernandez said the program has worked very well so far.
“It’s probably been one of the most successful innovations that we have created in a very very long time. We’ve had great change,” Hernandez said. “And what we’ve also seen is that the vast majority, 95% to 97% of the mortgages, end up curing over period of time so it’s doing exactly what it was meant to do, which was offer that cash flow relief. And then allowing them to stay in their home and move forward so we’re all excited about that. I’m glad. It’s a regular part of our efforts.”