Homeowners Facing Hardship Get Mortgage Payment Leeway – Based on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s announcement, homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments, regardless of whether the reason is related to COVID-19, now have a payment deferral option. Homeowners could be eligible to defer two months of their mortgage payments until the end of their mortgage, depending on their circumstance. The GSEs had intended to announce a payment deferral program later this year, but the agencies decided to roll out the program now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The payment deferral program is available to borrowers who have faced a short-term hardship that has caused them to miss one or two months of mortgage payments. If borrowers resolve that hardship within those two months, they will be eligible to defer the two months of missed payments to the end of their loan, without having to modify their loan.
Source and link to the full article: “Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Will Let Borrowers Facing Hardship Defer Two Months of Mortgage Payments,” HousingWire (March 25, 2020)
February New-Home Sales Ease From January’s Peak – According to the Commerce Department, after reaching a 13-year high in January, sales of newly built homes posted a decrease last month. Builders predict sales of new homes to temporarily recede over the coming weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New-home sales dropped 4.4% in February compared to the previous month. Sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 765,000 in February, and with the dip largely predating the coronavirus outbreak, some economists suggested that it was an effect of the rainy weather across the country in February. The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has caused mass shutdowns largely over the last several weeks. Despite the monthly drop in February, new-home sales were still 14.3% higher than a year ago. February’s new-home sales reading still marks the highest monthly sales pace since July 2007.
Source and link to the full article: National Association of Home Builders and “New-home Sales Drop 4.4% in February From January’s 13-Year High,” MarketWatch (March 24, 2020)
Mortgage Giants Ease Appraisal Requirements – Based on The Federal Housing Finance Agency directive, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will provide alternative appraisal requirements and employment verifications on loans the agencies service through May 17th. The guidance is in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. “To allow for homes to be bought, sold, and refinanced as our nation deals with the challenges of the coronavirus, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will leverage appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to inspect the interior of a home for eligible mortgages,” the FHFA said in a statement. If lenders cannot obtain verbal verification of a borrower’s employment before a loan closing, they will allow lenders to obtain verification via an email from the employer, a recent year-to-date pay stub from the borrower, or a bank statement showing a recent payroll deposit.
Source and link to the full article: FHFA.gov
Major Builder: Coronavirus Won’t Stop New Construction – According to Lennar Corp.’s executive chairman, Stuart Miller, low interest rates and inventory will draw buyers to the market. The home builder, one of the largest in the country, said it was working on new ways for buyers to purchase new homes virtually, such as by leveraging its digital programs and offering drive-through closings. Such closings enable home buyers to sign documents from their car. “Even in the current environment, we are selling homes,” Miller said. “Since the first quarter, new orders continue to be strong.”
Source and link to the full article: “Lennar Says Homes Are Still Selling Despite Coronavirus,” The Real Deal (March 19, 2020)