What Is a Mortgage Forbearance Agreement?

Article Summary:

Mortgage forbearance agreements help people experiencing financial hardship keep their homes. It can pause mortgage payments or reduce the payment amount for a time. Of course, delayed and reduced payments will have to be made up for later, but the temporary relief can help people get on their feet.

During periods of financial difficulties, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, many people risk losing their jobs and homes. Thankfully, mortgage forbearance agreements are often available to those struggling and allow them to keep their homes.

Mortgage forbearance agreements pause monthly mortgage payments or reduce the payment amount. This is only a temporary solution and will have to be paid back, but there are a few different repayment plans available. To find out which repayment plan you qualify for and how to get a forbearance agreement, keep reading.

What is a mortgage forbearance agreement?

In a mortgage forbearance agreement, a lender agrees to provide a borrower with temporary relief from mortgage payments. The financial relief usually comes in the form of paused payments or a lower monthly payment. A mortgage forbearance agreement does not excuse you from making mortgage payments in the future; it is there to help you keep your home in a time when you may not have been able to do so otherwise.

Mortgage forbearance agreements are designed to enable those who face a temporary financial hardship to avoid foreclosure. Some examples of financial hardships include job loss, divorce, sickness, disability, the death of a wage earner, and more.

Who is eligible for a forbearance agreement?

The main eligibility requirement for a mortgage forbearance agreement is the inability to make your mortgage payments due to financial hardship. Lenders also usually have a trial period to ensure that you can make the new payments.

Forbearance agreement required documents

Required documents vary depending on the mortgage servicer, but most require you to provide proof of the following:

  • Bank statements
  • Financial statement
  • Hardship statement
  • Proof of income
  • Tax returns

How long do mortgage forbearance agreements last?

Most forbearance periods are between three and six months. You might be able to extend forbearance in the following circumstances:

You have a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage

Those with mortgages backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae can request extensions of up to three months. There is a maximum total forbearance period of 18 months. You only qualify for this extension if you received your first forbearance on or before February 28, 2021.

You have a HUD/FHA, VA, or USDA mortgage

If your mortgage is backed by HUD/FHA, VA, or USDA, you can request up to two three-month extensions. The maximum total forbearance is 18 months. You are only eligible for this extension if you received your initial forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.

You make other arrangements with your loan servicer

If you cannot make monthly mortgage payments and do not have a federally backed mortgage, talk to your servicer about what relief options are available to you. Discussing these options with you will usually be required. Depending on the cause of your financial hardship and the likelihood that it will be temporary, forbearance options may be available to you to prevent foreclosure.

How to qualify for a COVID-19 forbearance

To qualify specifically for a COVID-19 forbearance, you must:

  1. Have a federally backed mortgage loan. This includes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, as well as HUD/FHA, VA, and USDA loans.
  2. Be experiencing financial hardship, such as job loss, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have to fill out a hardship statement.

Even if you do not have one of the loans listed above, your mortgage lender is required to discuss payment relief options with you.

Repayment options

The forbearance period usually lowers payments or pauses them for a time. At the end of your forbearance period, you will have to repay what you owe. There are a few different repayment options. Which you choose will depend on who your servicer is and what your financial situation looks like. Here are the options:

Repayment plan

With this option, you will pay off the amount owed in small increments that are added to future monthly mortgage payments.

Here’s an example:You pay $1,000 in monthly mortgage payments. Your mortgage forbearance agreement allows your monthly payments to be cut to $500 for three months. This means you will owe $1,500 at the end of the forbearance. Your forbearance plans for you to pay off this amount over a year. Starting in the fourth month, an additional $125 will be added to your monthly mortgage payment until the $1,500 is paid off.

Payment deferral

A payment deferral option allows you to pay for the forbearance period either when you sell or refinance your home, or when your mortgage ends. When the time comes to pay up, you will repay by refinancing or paying everything back all at once.

For example: Your mortgage forbearance agreement delays paying 3 months’ worth of monthly mortgage payments until the end of your 15-year mortgage loan. You owe about $3,500 from the forbearance period. At the end of the 15 years, you will repay the $3,500 all at once, or by refinancing.

Pro tip: Find the right mortgage refinancing for you

If you want to refinance your home, be sure to review and compare mortgage refinance corporations beforehand. In addition to a list of the best mortgage refinance lenders, SuperMoney offers tools to help you in your search with real-customer reviews and objective company and program information.

Loan modification

A loan modification is when your servicer changes the terms of your loan to better fit your current financial situation. This could lower your monthly payments by extending the term of your loan. Or it could lower your payments in the short term and increase them in the long term, keeping the overall duration of your loan the same. The first type of modification is best for those who have a major life change, such as a permanent disability. The second type is best for those who face a major, but temporary, challenge, such as a job loss.

Example: Your forbearance period is one year long, allowing you time to find a new job after losing one. Your servicer could take the missed payments, divide the total amount up evenly, and apply a small amount to all future mortgage payments.

Lump-sum

With this option, you pay back everything you owe at once at the end of the forbearance period.

For example: Your payments are paused for six months, and you owe $6,000. In month seven, you pay the $6,000 in addition to your regular monthly payment. After that, you go back to the monthly payment schedule you were on before the forbearance.

This option is generally not available for those with federally backed loans.

Things to consider

A mortgage forbearance agreement can definitely provide you with some much-needed relief. But there are some important aspects to consider before jumping into the agreement. Some mortgage forbearance can affect your credit history, and you still have home-related fees to pay. Here are some things to consider when looking into getting a mortgage forbearance:

Credit

If your account is current and you have received forbearance that falls under the CARES Act, your credit should not be harmed. In some cases, however, your servicers can report that your account is in forbearance. This could hurt your credit. The good news is forbearance is less damaging to your credit score than a foreclosure is.

Payments missed without forbearance can have a bad effect on your credit history. Because of this, make sure you have entered the agreement before halting payments.

If your creditor reports missed payments as a mistake, you have the option to dispute the claim.

You will be able to check your credit report here for free on a weekly basis until December 22, 2022. After that, you will still be able to get a free report once per year, and more robust credit-monitoring tools will continue to be available.

Fees

The forbearance period does not exempt you from paying all fees. You will still have to pay for insurance, property taxes, and condo or HOA fees. You are responsible for making these payments. If you have an escrow account, confirm that these payments are still being made.

Your repayment plan

Be sure you are fully aware of and understand the repayment plan you agree to. Again, forbearance does not exempt you from future payments. It simply delays making them. Have a financial plan in place so that you can make those payments when the time comes to do so.

Length of the forbearance period

Mortgage forbearance agreements are designed to be a short-term solution for a temporary problem. You also are simply delaying the payments, not getting rid of them completely. Be sure this is a solution that works for you and your situation. If you need a long-term solution, seek another option. Your mortgage lender may know other solutions that better fit your situation.

How do I get a mortgage forbearance?

First, talk to your mortgage servicer and ask for forbearance. Those with a loan backed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, HUD/FHA, VA, or USDA just need to show that they are experiencing financial hardship. Those without these loans will have to discuss other relief options with their lender.

How to do well in forbearance

There are a few more steps to take after entering the forbearance period. The following steps will help things run smoothly in the future and avoid any issues that could hurt your credit score:

  1. Stop auto-payments, or change how much is paid. Doing this will prevent overdrawing from your account, and prevent potential fees.
  2. Make sure your insurance and taxes are still being paid. If you have an escrow account, double-check that those payments are still going through. If you do not have an escrow account, be sure to make those payments on time.
  3. Continue to pay any HOA or condo fees that may apply to your house.
  4. Monitor your mortgage statements to make sure everything is accurate and no mistakes have been made.

FAQ

What are the negatives of forbearance?

Forbearance has the potential to harm your credit score, though it would not hurt it as much as a foreclosure would.

What happens after a forbearance agreement?

Your payments will either be reduced or paused for a time. You will still have to pay for taxes and insurance, as well as HOA fees, if applicable.

Does mortgage forbearance hurt your credit?

Your credit score should not be affected if your forbearance falls under the CARES act and is current.

Key takeaways

  • Mortgage forbearance agreements temporarily pause or reduce payments on one’s mortgage.
  • To get a mortgage forbearance agreement, you must be experiencing a financial hardship that prevents you from making mortgage payments.
  • The forbearance period is generally three to six months long, but it can be extended.
  • Missed payments must be made up at the end of the forbearance period.

Alternatives if you don’t qualify for forbearance

If you’re struggling to pay off your mortgage and don’t qualify for a forbearance agreement, consider other ways to receive mortgage relief. SuperMoney has a definitive guide to mortgage relief that reviews other ways to alleviate mortgage debt.

View Article Sources
  1. Exit your forbearance — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
  2. Forbearance Agreement — Contracts Counsel
  3. Know Your Options, Forbearance — Fannie Mae
  4. Learn about forbearance — CFPB
  5. Mortgage forbearance during COVID-19: What to know and what to do— CFPB
  6. What is mortgage forbearance? — CFPB
  7. How Many Mortgages Can You Have? — SuperMoney
  8. How To Buy Foreclosed Homes With No Money — SuperMoney
  9. How To Transfer Ownership of a House With a Mortgage — SuperMoney
  10. What Happens If You Inherit a House With a Mortgage? — SuperMoney