The share of mortgages in forbearance continues to retreat from last summer’s highs, but roughly 2.3 million homeowners are still taking a hiatus from their monthly mortgage payments, according to the latest numbers from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
The MBA’s weekly Forbearance and Call Volume Survey showed the forbearance rate dropping for the seventh week in a row, to 4.5 percent as of April 11, 2021. That’s 18 times higher than the 0.25 percent rate before the pandemic, but much improved from a high of 8.55 percent in June.
Forbearance rates were lowest on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (2.44 percent) and highest on private loans (8.34 percent). The forbearance rate on FHA, VA and USDA mortgages securitized by Ginnie Mae was 6.16 percent.
“Economic data on home construction and consumer spending in March show a strong housing market and a quickened pace of economic activity,” said MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni in a statement. “Combined with the homeowner assistance and stimulus payments that many households are receiving, we expect that the forbearance numbers will continue to decline in the months ahead as more individuals regain employment.”
About one-third of borrowers who have been granted an extended forbearance have now gone more than 12 months without making a loan payment, Fratantoni said. Borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA and USDA can be in COVID forbearance for up to 18 months.
There are concerns that some borrowers will be in danger of losing their homes if they’re unable to resume payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed a moratorium on foreclosures through Dec. 31, 2021 — a rule that would also apply to servicers of private loans.
Most homeowners who were granted COVID forbearance won’t be expected to make up their missed payments all at once. Depending on the type of loan they have, they may be able to enter into a repayment plan, apply for a loan modification, or defer repayment until they refinance or sell their home. Homeowners and renters can learn more about their options on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website.