Disasters are mounting: Hurricane Laura is making landfall, wildfires are blazing through California, and the COVID-19 pandemic is raging on. Homeowners may find themselves in the midst of many threats.
As of Thursday morning, Hurricane Laura was slamming into the Texas and Louisiana coasts with its powerful Category 4 winds reaching 150 miles per hour. More than 1.5 million people in the region were under some form of evacuation orders. Meanwhile, California continues to battle some of the largest wildfires in the state’s history. The blazes have so far killed seven people, burned nearly 1,300 homes and buildings, and have prompted 170,000 people to evacuate.
And, let’s not forget, the nation continues to face a public health threat from the coronavirus outbreak, still escalating in many parts of the country.
Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reminding mortgage servicers about disaster relief policies available for homeowners who may be facing a disaster. Relief options are also available for Americans who have a place of employment located in a presidentially declared disaster area.
“The immediate priority is for residents to get safely out of harm’s way,” says Bill Maguire, Freddie Mac’s vice president of single-family servicing management. “Once out of harm’s way, we strongly encourage homeowners whose homes or places of employment are impacted to call their mortgage servicer—the company they send their monthly mortgage payments to—so they can learn about available relief options. Working with our servicers, we stand ready to ensure mortgage relief is made available to homeowners affected by these natural disasters.” Fannie Mae issued a similar statement.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer forbearance programs for up to 12 months, in which affected homeowners can delay mortgage payments. Also, homeowners already on a COVID-19 related forbearance or other relief plan are urged to contact their servicer again to review more options, the GSEs note.
The GSEs also announced they would waive assessments of penalties or late fees against homeowners affected by these disasters. Fannie Mae says it also offers homeowner’s assistance in requesting financial relief from FEMA, insurance, and other sources.