The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) extended several loan origination flexibilities currently offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac designed to help borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Those flexibilities are extended until at least June 30 and include:
- Alternative appraisals on purchase and rate term refinance loans;
- Alternative methods for verifying employment before loan closing;
- Flexibility for borrowers to provide documentation (rather than requiring an inspection) to allow renovation disbursements (draws); and
- Expanding the use of power of attorney and remote online notarizations to assist with loan closings.
“These loan origination flexibilities will continue to facilitate loan closings and go a long way to keeping the market functioning effectively during this national emergency,” said FHFA Director Mark Calabria. “Today’s actions also keep homebuyers, sellers, and appraisers safe.”
The FHFA also reiterated recently that borrowers in forbearance with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage are not required to repay the missed payments in one lump sum.
“During this national health emergency, no one should be worried about losing their home," said Director Mark Calabria. “No lump sum is required at the end of a borrower's forbearance plan for Enterprise-backed mortgages. To help homeowners navigate the forbearance process, FHFA partnered with CFPB on the Borrower Protection Program to provide homeowners accurate information about forbearance and address concerns noted in some consumer complaints. While today's statement only covers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, I encourage all mortgage lenders to adopt a similar approach."
In response to the COVID-19 national emergency, the GSEs permitted borrowers with financial hardship due to the pandemic a forbearance option, which is a pause or reduction in their monthly mortgage. The missed payments will have to be paid back by the borrower. For those borrowers who opt for forbearance, their mortgage servicer will contact them about 30-days before the end of the forbearance plan to see if the temporary hardship has been resolved and discuss a variety of repayment options. If the hardship has not been resolved, the forbearance plan can be extended. If the hardship has been resolved, the servicer will work with the borrower to:
- Set up a repayment plan;
- Modify the loan so the borrower's payments are added to the end of the mortgage; or
- Set up a modification that reduces the borrower's monthly mortgage payment.