New Administration, More Forbearance: Biden Administration Announces Extension of COVID-19 Forbearance and Foreclosure Protections for Homeowners

Morgan Lewis - All Things FinReg
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Morgan Lewis - All Things FinReg

As part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to address the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American families, on February 16, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, US Department of Veterans Affairs, and US Department of Agriculture (together, the agencies) announced a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs. This announcement extends and expands the agencies’ forbearance and foreclosure relief programs through June 30, 2021. The programs were due to expire in March.

As we previously reported, these programs and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) moratorium discussed below have been extended several times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the agencies’ relief programs will extend the foreclosure moratorium, extend the mortgage payment forbearance window for borrowers who wish to request forbearance, and provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.

On February 9, the FHFA announced the following updates:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) will extend the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and evictions until March 31, 2021 (the current moratoriums were set to expire on February 28, 2021).
    • The FHFA’s foreclosure moratorium applies to GSE-backed, single-family mortgages only. The eviction moratorium applies to properties that have been acquired by a GSE through foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure transactions (real estate owned (REO) properties).
  • Borrowers with a GSE-backed mortgage may be eligible for an additional three months of forbearance. 
  • COVID-19 payment deferral for such borrowers can cover up to 15 months of missed payments.
    • COVID-19 payment deferral allows those borrowers to repay their missed payments at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or at mortgage maturity.

Currently, FHFA projects that expenses of $1.5 to $2 billion will be borne by the GSEs due to the existing COVID-19 foreclosure moratorium and its extension.

The Biden administration stated that the agencies’ relief programs along with the FHFA’s relief should cover 70% of existing single-family home mortgages. The administration stated that its priorities are to provide immediate relief to American homeowners, support hard-hit communities of color, and provide a centralized source for housing assistance.

We will continue to monitor the effect of the pandemic on the mortgage industry and provide updates as developments occur. For more information about what servicers should know about managing COVID-19 mortgage loan forbearances, please see our LawFlash.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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