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Actions people in mortgage forbearance should take now

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 02, 2021

Around 2 million homeowners are still in mortgage forbearance even as many people start paying again.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns millions of families are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure in the coming months.

But there is action people in forbearance should start taking now, even before that forbearance ends, to try to prevent this.

“Many borrowers, if they can't afford to resume their payments at the levels that they were at before the forbearance, they will have other options, so we expect to see loan modifications, things like that, where they might need to change the terms of their mortgage to be able to make the payments,” said Kristen Holt, CEO of GreenPath, a national nonprofit credit counseling service.

Holt says GreenPath has been getting more calls recently about forbearance and housing needs.

As more people look to exit forbearance, complaints about mortgages and mortgage servicers are up as well.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the agency saw the highest monthly volume of mortgage-related consumer complaints in nearly three years in March.

The top complaint is having issues communicating with loan servicers. That's where contacting a free credit counseling service first might be helpful.

“We can look at your situation and tell you what options there might be. We can also even call the servicer with you, if you're nervous about that or you want a little bit of translation,” said Holt.

She says when you talk with the servicer, make sure you're writing everything down, so you can go back later and see your options.

If you can't afford payments anymore, but you feel like the situation is temporary, you may be able to get your forbearance extended.

One good thing now compared to during the house crisis in 2008 and 2009 is you likely have equity in your home now.

It's also a seller's market, so that could be an option if your home isn't affordable to you anymore.

GreenPath's number to get free help is 888-995-HOPE. They also have virtual financial coaching on their website, if you'd rather start there first.