Biden Administration offers more options to prevent foreclosures

The foreclosure moratorium for federally-backed mortgages expired at the end of July, but the Biden Administration has come up with alternatives for borrowers to reduce their mortgage payments.

These new options, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), will provide options for homeowners that would allow them to lengthen the terms of their mortgages by reducing the monthly principal and monthly interest.

This would bring them “closer in alignment with the options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” according to a press release provided by the White House.

While the foreclosure ban expired on July 31, the enrollment period for forbearance on loans is still available through September 30.

“HUD will allow servicers to extend the mortgage term for those borrowers unable to make monthly payments after the foreclosure ban expired.”

According to Housing Wire, about 1.75 million homes are still in forbearance. For those Americans who are ready to start paying their mortgages once again, the federal government will allow them to simply add on payments to the end of their current mortgage payment schedule to make up for the lost time.

However, many homeowners are going to need more help than just lengthening the mortgage payment schedule if they are to keep their current 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.

HUD will allow servicers to extend the mortgage term for those borrowers unable to make monthly payments after the foreclosure ban expired. According to the release, some mortgage terms can be extended 360 months – or another 30 years – at the market rate, which would reduce their monthly payments by about 25%.

Additionally, borrowers can receive a partial claim, which is an interest-free second mortgage, of sorts, that isn’t due until the first mortgage is paid off in its entirety.

These partial claims will be offered by HUD to those borrowers who can start making their mortgage payments again.

The VA will buy a portion of the borrowers’ unpaid principal balance and arrears up to 30% and offer a partial claim that is interest free. Additionally, they can extend mortgages for as many as 40 years.

As for the USDA, their options are targeting a 20% reduction in monthly payments. These would include a term extension, like HUD, but also an interest rate reduction as well as an advance to help make up for past due payments. Borrowers would have the option to use these new alternatives either individually, separately, or combined.

Aside from these new options, the Homeowners Assistance Fund will provide $10 billion in relief for homeowners who were impacted by the pandemic. These funds can be used to pay mortgages, insurance on the home, even utility bills.

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