by Maurie Backman | Jan. 19, 2021
If your home loan is currently paused, make sure you know what to expect once you're liable for payments again.
Many Americans have lost their jobs or suffered income loss in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The good news is that there's been relief for homeowners in the form of mortgage forbearance.
With forbearance, you get to pause your monthly mortgage payments for a period of time and then catch up on them later. As part of the protections for borrowers during the pandemic, homeowners can request an initial 180-day period of forbearance and then a 180-day extension for a total of 360 days.
If you put your mortgage into forbearance early on during the pandemic, you may soon have to start making payments on your home loan again. But do you know what to expect once your forbearance period comes to an end? Many borrowers don't. In fact, 13.2% of homeowners with mortgages in forbearance exited without a plan in place, reports the Mortgage Bankers Association.
If you're not sure what to do about your mortgage following forbearance, be sure to reach out to your lender sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you could be in for a world of stress.
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One thing mortgage lenders can't do during the pandemic is compel borrowers with home loans in forbearance to catch up on their missed payments in an immediate lump sum. As such, you don't have to worry about owing roughly a year's worth of payments right away once forbearance is over. But you will have to make up those skipped payments in time, and if you're not sure what that means or how it'll work, contact your lender as soon as possible. That way, your lender can walk you through your options so you know what's expected of you.
Keep in mind that if your financial situation hasn't improved since you requested forbearance, you may have some options for keeping your home, even if you can't swing your upcoming mortgage payments or catch up on your skipped ones so quickly. Your lender, for example, might agree to let you modify the terms of your mortgage, and doing so could shrink your monthly payments to a number you can afford. Or, your lender might let you refinance your mortgage to a loan with a lower interest rate. That, too, could lower your monthly payments substantially, especially since today's refinance rates are sitting near record lows.
The point, either way, is that you're not necessarily out of luck if your forbearance period comes to an end and you can't keep up with your mortgage payments. But being in the dark isn't going to do you any good. So, if your forbearance period is getting close to wrapping up, call your lender and find out what to expect. And if your finances are still in the dumps, make that clear. Your lender may be willing to grant you more leeway and help you stay in your home, but if you don't ask for that assistance, you won't get it.
Chances are, interest rates won't stay put at multi-decade lows for much longer. That's why taking action today is crucial, whether you're wanting to refinance and cut your mortgage payment or you're ready to pull the trigger on a new home purchase.
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