Coronavirus-related forbearance requests still on the rise

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The total number of mortgages in forbearance grew by more than a percentage point over the past week as coronavirus-related unemployment claims increased, the Mortgage Bankers Association said.

As of April 19, 6.99% of all outstanding mortgages were in forbearance, compared with 5.95% one week prior. Over that period, the number of loans in forbearance at depositories rose to 7.87% from 6.57%, while the number of loans in forbearance for independent mortgage bank servicers increased to 6.52% from 5.69%.

"Forbearance requests fell relative to the prior week, but remain roughly 100 times greater than the early March baseline," said MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni in a press release. During the week of March 2 — before the coronavirus outbreak started a proliferation of stay-at-home orders across the country — only 0.25% of all mortgages were in forbearance status.

"While the pace of job losses have slowed from the astronomical heights of just a few weeks ago, millions of people continue to file for unemployment. We expect forbearance requests will pick up again as we approach May payment due dates," Fratantoni said.

Forbearance requests as a percentage of portfolio volume declined 65 basis points to 1.14% from 1.79% the previous week. But call center volume as a percentage of portfolio volume increased to 10% this past week from 8.8% for the week ended April 12.

By investor type, Ginnie Mae mortgages — Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service products — continued to have the highest percentage of loans in forbearance, at 9.73%; one week earlier it was 8.26%.

There were 5.46% of conforming mortgages, those purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in forbearance as of April 19, up from 4.64% the previous week.

Meanwhile, 7.52% of private-label securities and portfolio loans — products which were not addressed by the coronavirus relief act — were in forbearance, compared with 6.43% one week prior.

There were 53 servicers in this week's survey, 29 independent mortgage bankers, 22 depositories and two subservicers. By unit count, the respondents represented more than three-quarters of the outstanding first-lien mortgages, MBA said.

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