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Borrower Experiences with Mortgage Servicing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this report, we explore evidence on the experiences of distressed mortgage borrowers trying to access loss mitigation programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We use data from the 2020 American Survey of Mortgage Borrowers (ASMB) to analyze distressed borrower experiences. The ASMB is a survey sample derived from the National Mortgage Database (NMDB). The 2020 ASMB was designed to focus on borrower experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic by oversampling borrowers who were likely to be in distress. Our analysis shows the following primary findings:

  • The three most common problems distressed respondents reported reflect difficulty accessing loss mitigation programs. Almost half of distressed respondents reported that they did not think they qualified for a program or that they did not know how or where to apply for programs. More than one-quarter of distressed respondents reported that the application process was too much trouble.
  • Over 1 in 5 distressed respondents reported speaking a language other than English at home and around 1 in 15 reported both speaking a language other than English at home and speaking English less than very well. The survey estimates reflect similar shares to national statistics on households with limited English, suggesting a prevalence of borrowers with limited English proficiency.
  • Among distressed respondents who received forbearance, more than one-third were unclear about what would happen at the end of the forbearance period and how to repay suspended payments.
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