What Are Your Mortgage Relief Options?

Mortgage payments are due Wednesday across the country, just as millions of Americans are beginning to deal with economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $2 trillion CARES Act comes with significant benefits for homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments – most notably a moratorium on foreclosures and the right to forbearance. Many homeowners believed that the mortgage relief items applied to all borrowers but are quickly discovering they aren’t universally available. Homeowners in need must work with their lenders to identify the best solution for their individual situations. Here is a look at what you should do to seek relief from making mortgage payments in the coming months: Do you need help? Like the health…

Mortgage Applications Plummet In Coronavirus Hotspots

Mortgage applications in coronavirus hot spots plunged again last week to levels significantly lower than a year ago amid coronavirus stay-at-home orders and real estate shutdowns. In California, mortgage applications dropped 16.5 percent last week from a week earlier – and 36.4 percent from the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly survey. In New York, applications were down 18.1 percent for the week and 35.6 percent from a year ago. Overall, mortgage applications increased last week by 15.3 percent in the United States from a week earlier, as interest rates ticked down slightly after two straight weeks of rate increases. “The bleaker economic outlook, along with the first wave of realized job losses reported…

Fannie, Freddie More Flexible On Loan Processing Requirements

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Tuesday that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be more flexible on several loan processing steps to help ease the homebuying and borrowing process during the coronavirus pandemic. The changes are needed in large part because of social distancing requirements, which prevent people from gathering or interacting in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. President Trump said social distancing mandates will be in place at least through the end of April. “These loan processing flexibilities will expedite loan closings and help keep homebuyers, sellers, and appraisers safe during this national emergency,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.  The Fannie and Freddie adjustments include: Allowing desktop appraisals on new construction loans.Allowing flexibility on…

New Jersey Realtors Can Conduct Limited Business

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy updated what businesses are allowed to operate in the state, with realtors making the cut on a limited basis. “Realtors can operate and show houses to prospective buyers on a 1-on-1basis or to immediate families,” Gov. Murphy said in a tweet. There is still a prohibition on open houses.” New Jersey has the second most confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, after only New York. States have taken a variety of approaches to whether realtors can operate amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pennsylvania has banned all real estate activities, and the state police even issued a warning to a Wexford office whose realtors were on the wrong side of the restriction. California and Washington state also shut down real estate…

Feds: Housing Construction An Essential Business

The Department of Homeland Security deemed the homebuilders “essential critical infrastructure workers” in a sweeping document designed to provide guidance to states navigating the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter issued over the weekend, the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) classified the following home construction workers as essential: Workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage. Workers supporting the construction of housing, including those supporting government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services that can be modified to protect the public health, but fundamentally should continue and serve the construction of housing (e.g., allow qualified private…

Pending Home Sales Strong Across US In February

In the latest economic report that feels like it is from another age, pending home sales role in February for the second consecutive month. The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index grew 2.4 percent last month – and 9.4 percent over February 2019. The report found there was a monthly and yearly increase in each of the four regions. The report does not capture much, if any, of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic or federal or state efforts to contain it. “February’s pending sales figures show the housing market had been very healthy prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown,” Lawrence Yun NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “Numbers in the coming weeks will show just…

State Police Order Pennsylvania Real Estate Office Closed

Pennsylvania State Police notified a real estate firm that it is in violation of Gov. Tom Wolf’s order for non-essential businesses to shut down among the coronavirus pandemic. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty in Wexford was operating in violation of the order, issued on March 29, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors announced in a blog post. “I know there has been a lot of passionate discussions between some agents who felt the need financially to continue to show homes versus the agents who- felt morally the need to stay home. I saw validity in both opinions,” said Tom Hosack, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty. “Fortunately, that decision has been taken away from me. We were notified…

Freddie: Interest Rates Drop To 3.5% This Week

After two weeks of increases, mortgage rates dropped this week amid a flurry of activity by the Federal Reserve and the federal government. Freddie Mac said 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 3.5 percent – down from 3.65 percent last week and 4.06 percent a year ago. Fifteen-year fixed rates dropped to 2.92 percent from 3.06 percent and 5-year adjustable rate mortgages were up 0.23 points to 3.34 percent. “The Federal Reserve’s swift and significant efforts to stabilize the market were much needed and helped mortgage rates drop for the first time in three weeks,” Freddie Mac said in a statement. “Similar to other segments of the economy, real estate demand is softening. However, the combination of the Fed’s actions and…

UWM Appears To Avoid FHA Loans, Refinancing Opportunities

United Wholesale Mortgage President and CEO Matt Ishbia said his company is purposely avoiding mortgages that serve lower and some middle-income Americans. “We are always on the higher credit score buckets at UWM and the lower rates at UWM. … We want lower rates, best quality borrowers, close them fast, get them to give you three referrals, and let’s keep dominating,” Ishbia said in an interview last week with the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME). Ishbia made the comments from his office at a time when brokers are working to adjust the way they do business amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the brokers with whom UWM does business have complained on social media and elsewhere that UWM is…

Coronavirus, Interest Rate Impacts Seen In Weekly Mortgage Report

So it begins. Mortgage applications dropped 29.4 percent last week from a week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. MBA’s refinance index dropped 34 percent for the week, though was still 195 percent higher than the same week a year earlier. “Looking ahead, this week’s additional actions taken by the Federal Reserve to restore liquidity and stabilize the mortgage-backed securities market could put downward pressure on mortgage rates, allowing more homeowners the opportunity to refinance,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index also dropped 15 percent last week. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 69.3 percent of total applications from 74.5 percent the…