On October 31, Fannie Mae issued a servicing notice to remind servicers that they may temporarily suspend or reduce mortgage payments for up to ninety days for borrowers whose income is affected by a disaster or for borrowers within federally declared disaster areas. The notice also lists the steps a servicer providing relief measures must take once it becomes aware that a property has incurred damage as a result of a disaster. On November 1, Fannie Mae issued Selling Guide Announcement SEL-2012-12, which establishes a permanent selling policy for mortgages impacted by a disaster. This policy replaces Fannie Mae’s traditional approach of issuing Lender Letters for each disaster. Under the new policy, for mortgage loans other than DU Refi Plus and Refi Plus, lenders must take prudent and reasonable actions to determine whether the condition of the property may have materially changed since the effective date of the appraisal report, and whether an additional inspection or appraisal is necessary. The Announcement identifies specific criteria lenders should use when determining if a mortgage can be delivered without additional action. Fannie Mae will not require a property secured by a DU Refi Plus or Refi Plus mortgage to undergo an additional inspection and/or new appraisal following a disaster, and will not require that a property damaged as a result of a disaster be repaired prior to delivery as long as the loan meets the property insurance requirements described in the Selling Guide.
On October 30, Freddie Mac announced that its full menu of relief policies for borrowers affected by disaster is being extended to homeowners whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and are located in jurisdictions that the President has declared to be Major Disaster Areas and where he has made federal Individual Assistance programs available to affected individuals and households. Freddie Mac encouraged servicers to help affected borrowers with Freddie Mac loans by (i) suspending foreclosure and eviction proceedings for up to 12 months, (ii) waiving assessments of penalties or late fees against borrowers with disaster-damaged homes, and (iii) not reporting forbearance or delinquencies caused by the disaster to the nation’s credit bureaus. On November 2, Freddie Mac issued Single-Family Seller/Servicer Guide Bulletin 2012-24 to revise selling requirements for properties damaged as a result of a disaster. The Bulletin explains that, on a temporary basis for mortgages secured by properties located in eligible Disaster Areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy, required property valuation and underwriting documentation must be dated no more than 180 days before the note date. For Relief Refinance Mortgages, sellers are not required to determine if an additional property inspection or a new appraisal is necessary after an initial property valuation has been relied upon, provided that the mortgage meets property insurance requirements.