FHA extends mortgage forbearance options – here’s what to know if you’re struggling to pay

Borrowers struggling to make their FHA mortgage payments now have more time to file for forbearance.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, you can now file for forbearance – essentially a temporary pause of mortgage payments – on FHA loans from now until the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency. Previously, the option (well, at least filing for it) was set to expire Sept. 30.

“Our top priority is to help as many individuals and families as possible to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and keep their homes,” said Lopa Kolluri, principal deputy assistant Secretary for Housing. “For FHA, this means that we will continue to work through all of our channels – mortgage servicers, housing counselors, and our other federal partners – to ensure we get the positive outcomes struggling homeowners need.”

Do you have an FHA-financed investment property? Are you struggling to stay on top of payments due to nonpaying tenants or other issues? Here’s what you need to know.

FHA forbearance extensions

HUD’s latest move brings FHA forbearance options more in line with Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s, which have no set expiration date for conventional loan borrowers.

To be clear, HUD’s extension doesn’t mean borrowers can pause mortgage payments for however long they need. There are still length limits on FHA forbearance, but now, borrowers can file at any time. Before, they’d be unable to file a forbearance request beyond September.

A borrower’s exact time limits will depend on when their forbearance period starts. For those who file Oct. 1 or later, they can have up to 12 months total (six months for an initial forbearance and another six-month extension). Borrowers who filed earlier can have up to 18 months in some cases.

HECM – or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage – forbearance options were also extended with HUD’s announcement this week. These borrowers can also request forbearance for up to 12 months through the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency.

Other strategies to help

If you’re a landlord who’s unable to pay your mortgage, filing for forbearance isn’t your only option. Consider these tips for cutting your overhead costs, or think about raising your rents if you have tenants up for renewal. These strategies can also help you increase cash flow while you get back on your feet.

Finally, if you’re really struggling, talking to a housing counselor or selling your property may be your best bet. In today’s hot market, there’s a good chance your returns will be strong – especially if you bought the home a few years ago.

Source: usatoday.com