Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced plans last week to extend their mortgage relief programs for unemployed borrowers while they are out of work. According to Fannie’s guidance letter, banks can offer unemployed borrowers up to six months of lowered or skipped payments without seeking prior approval and up to 12 months with a formal approval.
Fannie Mae will start its program extension on March, 1st. Freddie Mac will begin its offering of the extended forbearance period starting on February, 1st. To be eligible, the banks must determine if the “borrower” has less than 12 months worth of mortgage payments in savings and has monthly housing expenses above 31% of their incomes. After the extension period expires, if the borrower is still unemployed or unable to make payments, other options like a permanent loan modification or a short sale will have to be considered.