FHFA Announces Refinance and Home Purchase Eligibility for Borrowers in Forbearance

Real Estate In-Depth | May 2020

WASHINGTON—The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on May 19 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued temporary guidance regarding the eligibility of borrowers who are in forbearance, or have recently ended their forbearance, looking to refinance or buy a new home.

Borrowers are eligible to refinance or buy a new home if they are current on their mortgage (i.e. in forbearance but continued to make their mortgage payments or reinstated their mortgage). Borrowers are eligible to refinance or buy a new home three months after their forbearance ends and they have made three consecutive payments under their repayment plan, or payment deferral option or loan modification.

“Homeowners who are in COVID-19 forbearance but continue to make their mortgage payment will not be penalized,” said FHFA Director Mark Calabria. “Today’s action allows homeowners to access record low mortgage rates and keeps the mortgage market functioning as efficiently as possible.”

FHFA is also extending the Enterprises previously announced ability to purchase single-family mortgages in forbearance. The Enterprises are now able to buy forborne loans, with note dates on or before June 30, 2020, as long as they are delivered to the Enterprises by August 31, 2020 and where only one mortgage payment has been missed. The previous policy was set to expire on May 31, 2020.

National Association of Realtors President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & C, Inc., in San Francisco, CA, said of the FHFA guidance announcement, “Homeowners who have been forced into forbearance by no fault of their own but continue to make payments should not be penalized because of this pandemic. With the real estate industry driving nearly one-fifth of our national GDP, assurances that homebuyers can access credit and capitalize on record-low mortgage rates remain critical to America’s economic recovery.”