Maybe you know you can’t make your mortgage payment this month? Or you may have already missed one or more payments. Either way, there are steps you can take to avoid losing your home to foreclosure.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) changes
To help homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes, the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides for two helpful protections:
- A foreclosure moratorium through at least May 17, 2020. A moratorium stops or suspends the foreclosure; and,
- A right to up to a 12-month forbearance for homeowners impacted by COVID-19.
The foreclosure moratorium and right to forbearance applies to homeowners with a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Almost half of the mortgages in the U.S. are backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, so many homeowners will qualify for the additional protections. You can see if your mortgage is backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae by going to their websites.
Contact your loan servicer.
It benefits your servicer to help you stay in your home and keep making payments. They can offer you options to help you get back on track, including:
- Forbearance, or a temporary reduction of your mortgage payment;
- Repayment plans, or a temporary increase in your payments so that you can catch up on missed payments; and,
- Refinancing, or a new loan at a lower interest rate to reduce your mortgage payment.
In addition, if you have a federally backed loan you have new protections under the CARES Act to help you save your home.
Stay in your home.
If you move out of your home, you could lose some of your rights. Someone could also vandalize your home while you’re gone, and you could end up paying for the damage.
Open your mail.
Government and nonprofit organizations may mail you information to help you keep your home.
Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor.
Foreclosure prevention counseling is available for free through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program. To find your local HUD-approved housing counselor, go to Local Government and Community Resources.
Look out for scams.
There are scammers who try to take advantage of people who are trying to save their homes. Sometimes they try to get you to pay them cash. Sometimes they try to get you to sign over the deed to your home. Don't let scammers take your hard earned money or your home. Some common scams are:
- Asking for cash so that they can “negotiate” a loan modification for you or "help save your home."
- Suggesting that you deed your house to them and then rent it back from them.
- Posing as the federal government offering you “special bailout funds.”
- Offering you cash to sign over the deed to your home. This lets them collect any money you are owed after your home is sold at auction.
To keep yourself safe from scammers:
- Never sign papers under pressure.
- Never sign papers you don't understand.
- Don’t sign anything with blank lines or spaces.
- Never pay someone who is not your lender or loan servicer.
- Don't stop communicating with your lender or loan servicer.
- Never give out personal information (unless it's to your lender or loan servicer).
- Never sign over the deed to your home (unless you are selling it).