What is mortgage forbearance?

As the coronavirus began sweeping through the country in March 2020, many states issued shut-down orders for businesses, putting as many as 40 million people out of work by May. On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act to offer economic relief to those affected by the shut-downs, expanding unemployment benefits and offering mortgage forbearance to homeowners with mortgages backed or insured by the federal government, including Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, VA and FHA.

One year after the onset of the pandemic, many homeowners are approaching 12 months in their forbearance plan. After many extensions and exits, the Mortgage Bankers Association estimates 2.6 million homeowners are still in some form of forbearance, though that number continues to slowly fall. As of March 7, 2021, servicers’ forbearance portfolio volume sat at 5.14%.

But homeowners now have more time than ever to catch up. The FHFA recently extended forbearance plans an additional three months. With the latest edict, the agency is now allowing borrowers up to 18 months of coverage. This means that some borrowers may now be in forbearance through Aug. 31, 2022.

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Now, servicers are doing the hard work of helping borrowers as they exit forbearance with payment deferral/partial claim plans, lump-sum payments and other modifications.  

Of the cumulative forbearance exits for the period from June 1, 2020, through March 7, 2021, 27.3% represented borrowers who continued to make their monthly payments during their forbearance period, however, that number has slowly decreased for months now. On the other end of the spectrum, borrowers who did not make all of their monthly payments and exited forbearance without a loss mitigation plan in place, rose to 14.1%.

Our goal is to provide a resource that is continuously updated with the latest news and information so that lenders, servicers and homeowners can work together during this period of crisis and recovery.

Sincerely —

Sarah Wheeler, HousingWire Editor in Chief

FHFA, FHA remind servicers of mortgage relief options as coronavirus spreads.

Nearly 3 million borrowers are already in forbearance.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac tell borrowers that mortgages in forbearance do not need to be paid back all at once.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac announce that borrowers in forbearance can defer all missed payments until the end of their loan.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency on Wednesday extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until “at least” Aug. 31.

A report from the Mortgage Bankers Association reveals the share of mortgage loans in forbearance has fallen for the fourth consecutive week.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would continue to buy qualified loans in forbearance until Sept. 30, extending the previous deadline of Aug. 31.

Forbearance exits, measuring how many borrowers canceled agreements to suspend mortgage payments, rose to a one-month high in September’s first week. This was led by a surge in loan modifications, according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

After a slight uptick the previous week, mortgages in active forbearance plummeted 18%, marking the first time since mid-April the total number of plans fell below 3 million, according to Black Knight.

Forbearance Questions

  • What is mortgage forbearance?

    Forbearance is the temporary postponement of mortgage payments negotiated between a borrower and lender for repayment relief. This does not mean the loan is forgiven, rather, payments are deferred until the end of the forbearance period.

  • How do I request mortgage forbearance?

    To request mortgage relief under the CARES Act there are two options:

    1. You can phone your loan servicer directly. Your servicer is the company that you send your mortgage payments to each month and the number should be available on your payment statement or online.

    2. You can write and send a hardship letter affirming that you are enduring financial distress brought about by COVID-19. This creates a written record that you are pursuing forbearance protection. Letters may be emailed, faxed, or physically mailed to your mortgage servicer.

  • Will I need to repay my missed mortgage payments in one lump sum?

    No, though that is an option if you have the financial capability and would like to. Otherwise, you can:


    1. Negotiate a payment plan, that will make upcoming payments slightly larger

    2. Modify the existing loan, which may include a reduction of interest rates, an extended loan term or both.

  • How does my mortgage transition into forbearance?

    If your servicer approves your request, you will be provided a forbearance agreement outlining the terms. During the forbearance period, the servicer must not initiate or continue with foreclosure proceedings.

  • How does it transition out?

    Before the end of your forbearance period, your servicer should reach out to you to negotiate end of forbearance terms for repayment and possible extensions in certain situations, or a relief or workout option following forbearance.

  • Are there eligibility requirements?

    Yes, if you have experienced job loss, reduced income, illness or other issues related to COVID-19 you could be eligible for forbearance.

  • Can the forbearance be extended and for how long?

    Yes, under the CARES Act, if you have a federally backed mortgage, you can request an extension of the forbearance for up to an additional 180 days.

  • What is payment deferral?

    An option where the delinquent amounts are deferred and will become due later (i.e., mortgage maturity date, payoff, refinance, etc.). The deferred amount creates a non-interest-bearing forborne balance.

  • What do I do if my forbearance plan is coming to an end?

    Your servicer should contact you prior to the end of your forbearance plan to discuss options for bringing the mortgage current. However, you can contact them to begin this discussion and determine the best option for you, based on your individual circumstances.

Post-Forbearance Options

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