FHFA, CFPB Share Data To Protect Borrowers

The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a new initiative Wednesday that allows them to share information to ensure borrowers are getting information about mortgage relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

The CFPB will make complaint information and analytical tools available to FHFA, which will in turn make data available to the CFPB information about forbearances, modifications and other loss mitigation initiatives undertaken by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Protecting and helping homeowners during this national crisis is my top priority. No one should be worried about losing their home,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said. “Borrowers are entitled to accurate information about their forbearance options. This partnership with CFPB ensures FHFA can address misconceptions stemming from consumer complaints by working with Fannie and Freddie servicers.”

CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger said, “Help for consumers is always here at the CFPB through our complaints process. In addition to working with your lender to get an answer for you, we analyze the information to better educate consumers, provide clear rules for financial institutions, and hold companies accountable.”

FHFA’s regulated entities, Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Home Loan Banks provide more than $6.3 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage market.

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. Forbearance allows borrowers with a federally backed mortgage to put off payments for at least six months if they suffer economic hardship during the pandemic.

The law requires lenders to approve forbearance if requested by the borrower. The share of loans in forbearance climbed from 2.73 percent to 3.74 percent during the week ending April 5, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Forbearance and Call Volume Survey. That’s up from 0.25 percent on March 2.

The MBA estimates that the burden on lenders could range from $75 billion to $100 billion or higher if one-quarter of borrowers take advantage of forbearance for six months or longer.