Slideshow 5 ways servicers are helping homeowners affected by Harvey

Published
  • August 31 2017, 4:00pm EDT
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As Hurricane Harvey continues to wreak havoc in Texas and Louisiana, servicers and other mortgage industry resources stand at the ready to help displaced homeowners.

From payment forbearances to financing to start the rebuilding process, here's a look at five ways homeowners affected by Hurricane Harvey can get mortgage help.

No. 1: Connect with your servicer

Borrowers affected by the storm should call their mortgage servicers to apprise them of the situation, including whether a home has been damaged, if their employment situation has been affected. Displaced borrowers should let their servicer know where they're staying and how they can be reached.

The Mortgage Bankers Association has published a list of contacts for many of the industry's largest servicers.

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No. 2: Payment forbearances and disaster assistance are available

In many cases, servicers can waive late payment fees and offer borrowers affected by the storm a temporary suspension or reduction of their mortgage payments. For example, borrowers with loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can get their payments delayed up to 12 months. However, servicers must adhere to guidelines set by loan investors when offering assistance, which can vary even between loans serviced by the same company.

No. 3: Foreclosure relief

In addition to providing payment forbearances and other options to current borrowers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA have all suspended foreclosures and evictions in the affected areas for at least 90 days.

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No. 4: How to handle homeowners and flood insurance

Borrowers should also contact their homeowners insurance carrier and if applicable, flood insurance agent, before making repairs. Federal disaster assistance is also available to homeowners, even if they have flood insurance, by registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Homeowners without flood insurance may still be able to receive FEMA assistance for rental payments for temporary housing, unemployment payments, loans to cover residential losses not covered by insurance, and grants for home repairs and replacement of personal property, as well as other disaster-related needs, according to the MBA.

No. 5: Resources to rebuild

The storm has already destroyed an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes in the Houston area, with thousands awaiting rescue, according to the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Homeowners and business owners can obtain disaster recovery loans and other financing to start the rebuilding process.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a number of loan programs to help homeowners recover from natural disasters, including Federal Housing Administration-insured loans to home repairs and home purchases, as well as financing to state and local governments to help with the rebuilding process.