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Learn about mortgage relief options and protections

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Most homeowners are protected under federal law from foreclosure and can temporarily pause or reduce their mortgage payments if they’re struggling financially.

You’re protected if your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD/FHA, VA, or USDA. Keep reading to learn about your options.

You still may have relief options through your mortgage loan servicer or from your state, even if your loan is not insured, guaranteed, owned, or backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the federal government.

Find out who owns or services your mortgage.

Relief for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and federally backed mortgages

There are two protections for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the federal government: COVID hardship mortgage forbearance and a temporary halt to foreclosures.

These protections were originally made available to eligible homeowners under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and have since been expanded to provide additional assistance to homeowners through guidance from federal agencies, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

COVID hardship forbearance

Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to pause (suspend) or reduce your mortgage payments for a limited time while you build back your finances.

If you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may have a right to an initial COVID hardship forbearance of up to 180 days. You also may have the right to one or more extensions of that forbearance. You must request these options – they’re not automatic!

If your loan is backed by HUD/FHA, USDA, or VA, the deadline for requesting an initial forbearance is June 30, 2021. If your loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is not currently a deadline for requesting an initial forbearance.

You must contact your loan servicer to request this forbearance. There will be no additional fees, penalties, or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim to have a pandemic-related financial hardship. If you are facing financial hardships, you should ask for forbearance immediately.

If you already have a forbearance plan and need more time, you can request an extension. If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the federal government, you are entitled to a 180-day extension of your COVID hardship forbearance if you request it.

In addition:

  • If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac : You may request up to two additional three-month extensions, up to a maximum of 18 months of total forbearance. But to qualify, you must have received your initial forbearance on or before February 28, 2021. Check with your servicer about the options available.
  • If your mortgage is backed by HUD/FHA , USDA , or VA : You may request up to two additional three-month extensions, up to a maximum of 18 months of total forbearance. But to qualify, you must have started a forbearance plan on or before June 30, 2020. Not all borrowers will qualify for the maximum. Check with your servicer about the options available.

Seven things you should know about mortgage forbearance during the COVID-19 national emergency

Forbearance doesn’t mean your payments are forgiven or erased. You are still required to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future, which in most cases may be repaid over time. At the end of the forbearance, your servicer will contact you about how the missed payments can be repaid. There may be different programs available.

Make sure you understand how the forbearance will be repaid. There can be different forbearance programs or options, depending on the type of your loan.

For example, you won’t have to pay back the amount that was suspended all at once if you have a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD/FHA, VA, or USDA loan—unless you are able to do so.

If your income is restored before the end of your forbearance, reach out to your servicer and resume making payments as soon as you can to reduce the amount you owe later.

If you want to learn more

If forbearance is available to you, read our guide to help you make the best decision based on your situation.

Foreclosure moratoriums

Foreclosure is when the lender takes back the property after the homeowner fails to make required payments on a mortgage.

Foreclosure processes differ by state. Under federal law, a servicer generally cannot start the state foreclosure process until your loan is more than 120 days past due. There can be exceptions depending on your forbearance or other relief (often called “loss mitigation programs”).

Foreclosure moratoriums suspend or stop foreclosure.

If your loan is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD/FHA, USDA, or VA, your lender or loan servicer cannot foreclose on you until after June 30, 2021.

Specifically, the guidance from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, HUD/FHA, VA, and USDA, prohibit lenders and servicers from beginning a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment or sale. This protection began on March 18, 2020.

Some states and local governments have temporarily stopped foreclosures. Check your state’s government website for details .

If you want to learn more

Your servicer can work with you to avoid foreclosure.

The Homeowner’s Guide to Success explains the federal law and what to do if you can’t pay your mortgage.

What to do next

You must determine who owns or backs your mortgage to see if one of these mortgage relief options may be available.

Find out which mortgage relief options and protections you may qualify for