Freddie Extends Hurricane Forbearance Program Again
Freddie Mac has extended many of its emergency hurricane relief policies through Aug. 31 in the Gulf Coast counties and parishes affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to a May 1 guide bulletin sent to the company's seller/servicers.
The forbearance policies, which had already been extended from earlier deadlines, had been scheduled to expire at the end of May. The new bulletin also makes several underwriting policy changes intended to promote the housing recovery in the least damaged Gulf Coast jurisdictions.
"The May 1 bulletin continues to give servicers the authority to extend relief to borrowers with properties in the worst disaster areas, while recognizing that there are now more Gulf Coast counties and parishes with the economic strength to justify a return to pre-Katrina business operations," said Janet Eakes, senior vice president of Freddie Mac's operations division, in a news release.
Freddie Mac's hurricane policies apply only in federally designated disaster areas where FEMA individual assistance is available. To better support borrower and community recovery efforts, Freddie Mac classifies Gulf Coast counties and parishes by their degree of storm damage and adjusts its policies accordingly. Zone One counties have minimal damage, Zone Two moderate damage and Zone Three severe damage.
Freddie Mac is extending in every zone its ban on reporting borrowers with storm-related forbearance or repayment plans to credit bureaus and a streamlined loan modification process designed to expedite workouts to help storm victims avoid foreclosure.
Lenders must continue to obtain Freddie Mac's prior approval before initiating property preservation activities in Zones Two and Three other than decisions to access abandoned property for insurance claims, the bulletin says.
At the same time, Freddie Mac continues to encourage servicers to extend mortgage relief to borrowers with Freddie Mac loans on a case-by-case basis regardless of zone. Freddie Mac authorizes servicers to provide a wide range of mortgage relief to storm victims, including forbearance for up to one year from the date of the disaster.
The bulletin also eases several post-hurricane underwriting requirements in Zone One. For example, mortgages secured by Zone One single-family properties are eligible for low downpayment mortgages with a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 100%. The previous maximum had been 95%. The bulletin also removes special collateral requirements for undamaged properties in Zone One.
Fannie Mae has an ongoing policy of offering flexibility to servicers managing delinquent mortgages in areas affected by the hurricanes. The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently gave people displaced by the hurricane a discount on purchasing foreclosed FHA homes. Hurricane evacuees can purchase HUD-owned homes for 90% of appraised value, HUD said. HUD has also instructed FHA servicers to use forbearance in dealing with homeowners in the areas affected by Katrina and Rita.
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