Fewer than five million households failed to make their rent or mortgage payments in the second quarter of 2021, despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt across the country.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA), 8.6% of renters (2.86 million households) missed, delayed, or made a reduced payment in June 2021, while 4.6% homeowners (2.19 million) missed their mortgage payment. In addition, 28 million student debt borrowers (44.8%) missed payments.
Since the onset of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020, 6.8% of renters and 5.7% of homeowners have missed four or more payments, per the MBA. Missed rental payments now total $41.7 billion, missed mortgage payments total $76.5 billion, and missed student loan payments total $155 billion.
The delta variant of the coronavirus has slowed down what many economists believed to be the turning point following the pandemic’s outbreak 15 months ago.
“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases, and elevated inflationary pressures, could slow economic growth and hiring. These potential headwinds could also impact households still facing hardships,” said Gary Engelhardt, economics professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. “Given the level of government support during the pandemic and the more recent improvements in the economy and labor market, it is quite possible that the observed levels of rental non-payments may be at or close to pre-pandemic levels.”
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Property owners continue to play a key role in helping renters, as 11% of renters missed one rent payment over the 15 months of the pandemic, 4.4% missed two payments, 2.7% missed three payments, and 6.8% missed four or more payments. In aggregate, rental property owners lost as much as $7.10 billion in second-quarter revenue from missed rent payments. This was down from $7.48 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
On average, in the second quarter of 2021, 9.7% of renters received permission from their landlord to delay or reduce their monthly rent payment (by a week).
“Most homeowners still behind on their payments are in a mortgage forbearance plan,” said Edward Seiler, executive director, Research Institute for Housing America, and MBA’s associate vice president. “Homeowners’ employment situation and ability to make their mortgage payments has meaningfully improved since the onset of the pandemic. For those still facing hardships once their forbearance plan expires, loan modifications, payment deferrals, and loan payoffs – through either refinancing or a home sale – are all options that could prevent a foreclosure.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on July 23 that they will give homeowners options to reduce their monthly principal and interest by lengthening the term of the mortgage, bringing the agencies “closer in alignment with options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” a White House press release said.
For borrowers who can resume paying their mortgage, federal agencies will allow them to move their payments to the end of their mortgage. But the White House said some homeowners will need “deeper assistance” to become current and keep their homes.
“In order to ensure a stable and equitable recovery from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for homeowners to exit mortgage forbearance, the Biden-Harris administration is taking action to keep Americans in their homes and support a return to a more stable housing market,” the White House said in a statement.
The enrollment period for forbearance will conclude at the end of September.
Homeowners were the least likely of the three groups to miss a payment since the second quarter of 2020, as 85.4% of mortgagors made all their mortgage payments, 5.6% missed one payment, 1.9% missed two payments, 1.4% missed three payments, and 5.7% missed four or more payments.
On average, in the second quarter of 2021, 15.5% of mortgagors received permission from their servicers to delay or reduce their monthly payment (by week). In aggregate, total missed mortgage payments were estimated to be approximately $10.8 billion for the second quarter — down from $12.2 billion in the first quarter.