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Mortgage relief available for homeowners hit hard by Hurricane Irma

hurricane

South Florida homeowners may be able to redirect mortgage payments to cover major repairs in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Borrowers who need help fixing their homes should contact their lenders to request forbearances from payments for up to 12 months, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

At the end of the forbearance period, the homeowner won’t have to pay late fees, there will be no delinquencies reported to credit bureaus and the missed payments don’t have to be made all at once, FHFA said.

Becky Walzak, a board member of the Mortgage Bankers Association of the Palm Beaches, said forbearances may help homeowners make repairs faster than if they waited for insurance money to arrive.

“It’s for an immediate need, like a roof that leaks or windows that are broken,” she said. “But you have to show that the money is needed for repairs to maintain the property.”

If lenders approve a forbearance, they’ll likely add the missed payments to the end of the loan term, Walzak said.

Homeowners who get these payment breaks and then later receive insurance checks can set aside that money for the missed mortgage payments, she said.

Lenders also are offering interim financing for repairs, home equity lines of credit and other programs to support borrowers who are current on the mortgage payments, Walzak said.

“A lot of people just don’t know what help is available from their mortgage servicers,” she said.

For more information, borrowers should contact the mortgage company where they send their monthly payments, FHFA said. The telephone number and mailing address should be listed on the mortgage statement.

Those having trouble contacting the servicer can call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) for assistance.

Homeowners with Fannie Mae Loans can call 1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643) for more information.

Owners with Freddie Mac loans can call 1-800-373-3343 and select option 2.

Information also is available for homeowners at FEMA.gov, HUD.gov and RedCross.org.

 

 

by Paul Owers
Sun Sentinel

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