“Extension of the Mortgage Foreclosure Moratorium,” CAI South Gulf Coast Magazine

“Extension of the Mortgage Foreclosure Moratorium,” CAI South Gulf Coast Magazine

Florida ended its statewide protections against COVID-19 pandemic related foreclosures on October 1, 2020. However, the federal government has extended a foreclosure moratorium on the foreclosure of certain mortgages through June 30, 2021. The action was taken shortly after President Biden’s inauguration. Federal protections were due to expire in March of this year.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an estimated ten million homeowners were behind on mortgage payments in February. In an effort to deliver further relief for families bearing the brunt of this crisis created by the pandemic, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture announced a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs. The White House’s action builds on steps to extend the foreclosure moratorium for federally guaranteed mortgages.

The program will:

  • Extend the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021;
  • Extend the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30, 2021 for borrowers who wish to request forbearance;
  • Provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture coordinated efforts to make sure that the above actions will reach the greatest number of Americans. In February, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the independent agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, extended forbearance by three months for borrowers coming to the end of their forbearance period. These coordinated actions will cover an estimated seventy percent of existing single-family home mortgages.

It’s important for homeowners seeking to take advantage of these programs to know that forbearance isn’t the same as forgiveness. Interest will continue to accrue on mortgages during this period, and all costs will have to be repaid after the forbearance period ends. However, lenders are not permitted to seek the recovery of all missed payments in one lump sum.

The White House states that the program will directly benefit 2.7 million homeowners currently enrolled in federally sponsored forbearance plans and will extend the availability of forbearance options for nearly 11 million government-backed mortgages nationwide. This federally sponsored program does not apply to borrowers with private mortgages that are not federally insured. Some private lenders have offered COVID-19 related assistance options, but these options are offered at the discretion of the lenders.

Many experts predicted a mortgage foreclosure tsunami-like effect following the COVID-19 pandemic. Mortgage foreclosures have been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic, but the mortgage foreclosure moratoriums implemented at both the state and federal level have seemed to stem the effect.

In October of last year, Florida ranked second in the nation in foreclosure filings. According to Realtytrac.com, in February 2021, Florida ranks third in the nation (it’s most current figures at the time of publication of this article).

At that time, Florida had 1 in 6,108 homes in foreclosure. Lee and Collier County foreclosure rates are better than the statewide average with Lee having 1 in every 9,826 homes in foreclosure and Collier having 1 in every 12,963 homes in foreclosure. These figures are nowhere near the unprecedented foreclosure rates that the state experienced in the wake of the great recession of 2008.

Still, many experts predict a wave of foreclosures next year after the federal mortgage foreclosure moratorium is lifted.

To read the original CAI Community Voice article, please click here.

J. Kevin Miller is a shareholder with Becker’s Fort Myers and Naples offices. Mr. Miller has 20 years’ experience providing legal counsel to community associations in Southwest Florida. To learn more about Kevin, please click here.