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People aren’t paying their mortgages, how can the market adjust?

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) COVID-19 has greatly impacted jobs which leads people to not be able to pay rent or mortgage, so how has the government responded, and what does that mean?

mortgage market

Many people knew the spread of the coronavirus was going to be a big deal but it’s probably fair to guess that at the same time, it feels like it all elevated pretty quickly in the United States.

February feels like it was a lifetime ago and many may have been going about their day to day. Since early March, it has been a domino effect where people were pushed to work remotely (or let go), small businesses were forced to close their doors (or move to online sales), states put in shelter in place orders and mass events were cancelled. It’s no surprise that if you have to shut your business doors or you lose your job that without income, it’s hard to pay your bills.

The nationwide standard that we see is about 37% of one’s salary going to your housing (rent or mortgage – and of course, this varies across the nation). “The standard measure of housing affordability is 30% of pretax income.

Just last week, 4.4 million more Americans filed for unemployment (bringing the 5-week total to 26 million according to CNBC). Within those millions of people, there are a variety of stories – some have a spouse that is still working, some may have been good about their savings, some may be able to ask for help from friends or family, but many were living paycheck to paycheck and there’s nothing to fall back so this is a big blow.

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The data told us last week that about 6% of Americans (3 million) have had to request to put their mortgage payment into forbearance. There are a lot of scary things going on right now, but you can imagine that it is really scary to not be able to pay for your housing. This is also very true for renters across the nation that were given notices from their landlords that they were still expected to pay – and pay on time.

How has the government responded?

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act included a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package that passed on March 27, 2020 with bipartisan support. It included many areas:

  • Housing
  • Credit Report & Student Loans
  • Small Business Administration Provisions
  • Infrastructure
  • Tax
  • Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Amendments

Just like many packages, some are feeling left out or that they don’t meet the requirements for the aid, but in regards to the housing market, this past week was that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSE’s, Government Sponsored Enterprise) are now allowed to buy mortgage loans that are in forbearance which was not the case before.

Per Market Watch,

…In a forbearance agreement, a borrower may skip or make reduced payments for the duration of the agreement.

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Moving forward, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be allowed to purchase loans in forbearance, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said this month.

“We are focused on keeping the mortgage market working for current and future homeowners during these challenging times,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said in the statement. “Purchases of these previously ineligible loans will help provide liquidity to mortgage markets and allow originators to keep lending.”

“Typically, delinquent mortgages and loans in forbearance are ineligible for purchase by the two government-sponsored mortgage enterprises. The move to change the policy was made because some borrowers have sought forbearance shortly after closing, before the lender had the opportunity to sell the loans, the agency said.””

What does this even mean?

This announcement should loosen the market somewhat, although there are certain eligibility criteria and limits, according to FHFA:

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  • The mortgage loan must have closed on or after Feb. 1, 2020, and on or before May 31, 2020.
  • The loan must be a mortgage purchase transaction or a no-cash-out refinance.
  • The loan cannot be more than 30 days delinquent.

In addition, eligible loans will be assessed an additional loan-level price adjustment — 5% for first-time homebuyers and 7% for non-first-time buyers.”

If you read that for a second, does this only apply to people that literally bought their home right before March shelter in place announcements were made? Many are turning to their personal neighborhood Facebook groups to ask what others might be doing or if anyone has recommendations on what they can do if they have lost their sources of income.

Wherever you may be in shuffling things around to pay for your housing, this previous article, NAR Chief Economist’s COVID-19 worrisome predictions does give you some ideas on home loans and mortgage rates and what is happening in attempts for a housing recovery, as well as resources that are worth repeating: SBA loan programs , Unemployment Assistance, and Mortgage and Personal Finance policy.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

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