Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Coronavirus and Real Estate: The Latest News

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Monday, 23 March 2020 05:30

The news is fast-moving in the pandemic world, and it’s touching real estate in many important ways. We’re here to get you caught up on the latest changes. 

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD suspend foreclosures

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been directed “to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency,” said the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). 

This announcement comes on the heels of the President’s press conference, during which he proclaimed that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would suspend evictions and foreclosures until the end of April. “The effort is geared at stabilizing the housing market and avoiding a repeat of the spike in foreclosures witnessed in the 2008 financial crisis, housing experts said,” according to CBS News.

According to Denver-based real estate attorney Jeff Friedman of national law firm Hall Estill, this action by the government could protect homeowners at a critical time and ward off a potentially disastrous economic downturn. 

"It’s no surprise that the coronavirus is wreaking havoc throughout our markets and the economy,” he said. “But, the CFPB, HUD, and FHFA have reached an elegant solution to an enormous problem at a critical phase in our nation’s current circumstances. In a typical down real estate market, the daisy-chain, domino-effect reaction goes as follows: apartment renters lose their jobs or take significant pay cuts and can no longer afford to pay their rent; owners collect less rent and cannot make their debt service payments to their lenders; and lenders are not collecting enough on the debt service, with their loans now on distressed real estate assets. Evictions and foreclosures follow, with distressed assets available to vulture buyers. Here, however, the CFPB, HUD, and FHFA have stopped this process before it starts, giving renters and financial institutions the opportunity to address claims through a dispute resolution mechanism administered by the CFPB.”

Bank of America announces mortgage payment pause

We talked last week about the possibility of a mortgage holiday in the United States after Italy announced it would suspend mortgage payments, and now Bank of America is the first institution to make it a reality. 

The bank announced “’additional support for consumer and small business clients experiencing hardship from the impact of the coronavirus.’ Included among those support options is the ability to defer mortgage payments,” said HousingWire. “According to the bank, Bank of America mortgage and home equity customers can request to defer their payments while the virus crisis rages. The payments would then be added to the end of their loan. According to the bank, the payment deferral will be available on a case-by-case basis and can be extended on a month-to-month term.

President considers mortgage holiday

“The Trump administration is considering a plan to allow homeowners whose income was cut by the coronavirus to delay mortgage payments. Still to be decided is a mechanism for borrowers to catch up,” said Bloomberg. “The government also will have to determine how to advance money to mortgage servicers so that investors in mortgage-backed securities get their guaranteed payments. 

Homeowners impacted by disasters in the past have been able to take advantage of forbearance programs. Per Bloomberg, “The White House has been in touch with mortgage lenders to discuss their views on policy responses, according to an official who requested anonymity to speak about internal matters.”

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