Important Information for Homeowners Regarding Deferring Mortgage Payments

By skipashraful Updated January 27, 2024 Reviewed by skipashraful

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been substantial, affecting not only the healthcare system but also the economy. Layoffs have become commonplace since the onset of the pandemic, resulting in many individuals struggling to manage their bills. Amidst these challenges, one option that has emerged is deferring mortgage payments.

While this might initially sound worrisome, the situation is not as dire as it seems.

The positive news is that assistance is available to numerous homeowners in the form of forbearance. This isn’t limited solely to those who have secured loans through federal housing programs; many mortgage service providers are offering deferment options due to the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

So, what should homeowners do first if they’re facing financial difficulties and finding it hard to make ends meet?

The initial step involves reaching out to their mortgage service provider or the lending institution that issued their loan. It’s important to note that even though help is accessible, it should only be pursued if truly necessary. Taking this step requires thoughtful consideration; seek assistance only if you’re genuinely experiencing financial constraints. Remember, the offer of a payment break doesn’t absolve you from eventual repayment.

The opportunity to skip a mortgage payment comes with the understanding that the accrued interest and principal amount will be appended to the total payable sum at the end of the mortgage term.

Consequently, the following crucial question arises: should you consider seeking a moratorium?

Determining the Appropriate Time to Skip Mortgage Payments: Experts unanimously advise careful consideration before applying for forbearance. Opt for deferment if you’re facing financial strain, depleting savings, and increasing expenses.

Undoubtedly, those who believe they’re on the brink of financial collapse and won’t be able to meet the upcoming month’s mortgage payment under any circumstances should promptly contact their bank to discuss potential solutions. While providing proof of financial stress might not be mandatory, you might be required to sign a document or complete an application.

A reasonable approach is to initially opt for a three-month period to assess the situation’s progress. If challenges persist, consider extending the forbearance period.

Should you manage to stabilize your financial situation sooner than anticipated, promptly inform your mortgage servicer—remember, less delay is preferable.

Terms and Conditions of Skipping Mortgage Payments: Forbearance and forgiveness essentially provide borrowers with the ability to pause payments during crisis situations, such as natural disasters or pandemics like COVID-19. This temporary relief aims to help individuals navigate through challenging times. Missed payments and accrued interest must be repaid at the end of the forbearance period.

In the case of deferment, the process can vary slightly, with interest sometimes being temporarily suspended and the deferred payment added to the loan term’s end. Variations exist among different institutions’ structures. However, during the pandemic, the US government introduced a hybrid approach—the CARES Act Mortgage Provision. This approach retains interest accrual but waives additional charges or fees during the payment halt. Borrowers can choose to repay this sum at the end of the deferment or alongside the loan’s conclusion.

Under the CARES Act, individuals with federal loans can skip mortgage payments for 180 days or three months, with a 180-day extension available for those needing a year-long forbearance.

To assist homeowners in making up for missed payments, the FHA introduced a partial claim option, alleviating the need for a lump sum payment. This is part of the US government’s COVID-19 National Emergency Forbearance program. Guidelines differ among mortgage service providers, so clarification is essential.

Impact on Credit Score: It’s natural for those opting for moratorium to worry about their credit scores. While credit scores are pivotal, this unusual scenario won’t negatively impact them. Skipped payments fall under the relief agreement and don’t incur penalties. During such circumstances, mortgage service providers report the status as current for the deferment duration. However, remember to request an extension before the deferment expires; otherwise, missed payments might be reported to credit bureaus, affecting your score.

Refinancing During Forbearance: Refinancing might be problematic during forbearance. Lenders might hesitate due to risk aversion, suggesting waiting for 12 to 18 months before considering refinancing. Lenders typically want assurance of consistent payments. Therefore, if you’re eyeing the benefits of low-interest rates, it’s advisable to resume payments, rebuild lender confidence, and then explore refinancing.

In Conclusion: Exhaust all possibilities to avoid skipping mortgage payments. Forbearance offers temporary relief during challenging times, with deferred payments eventually requiring repayment. If you’re truly unable to manage, contact your lender to discuss terms and conditions. Once you’re back on your feet, prioritize timely payments. Remember, less financial strain is the preferable option.

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