June News You Can Use

Housing Stats • Leslie Lerner Appointed to TREC Working Group • Coronavirus Mortgage Relief Options

Houston Home Sales Perk Up In May

In Houston, we like positive news! The HAR press release may rain on our parade since they only look at numbers from year to year, but on a month to month basis, things are a bit more cheery! Total property sales, pending sales and home sales in all prices ranges except $750,000 and above saw gains in May. The number of active listings and months of inventory have decreased. That may be good news for sellers. The average days on the market remained at 58,

On a personal note, I have seen a great amount of activity in the marketplace lately.  It definitely gives us a sense of hope that we will bounce back quickly from the downturn of the past few months.

Per HAR / MLS:

Month-to-Month Comparison:

CategoryJan. 2020Feb. 2020Mar. 2020Apr. 2020May 2020June 2020
Total Property Sales5,8007,3938,9657,1927,91711,153
Total Active Listings39,69940,09140,93241,15139,51636,901
Single-Family Home Sales4,6996,0447,5666,1996,6719,328
Townhome/Condominium Sales398465533373405577
Single-Family Months of Inventory3.53.53.53.63.53.2
Single-Family Pending Sales7,2128,5477,8857,12510,55911,610
Days on Market686865585856

Single-Family Sales by Price Range (Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria & Montgomery Counties)

Price RangeJan. 2020Feb. 2020Mar. 2020Apr. 2020May 2020June 2020
$1 - $99,99910910797829892
$100,000 - $149,999277328361258301346
$150,000 - $249,9991,7572,1312,6882,1802,3092,927
$250,000 - $499,9991,4612,0562,5472,2002,2783,403
$500,000 - $749,999226277402324342548
$750,000 and above124161258191157282

Leslie Lerner appointed to Texas Real Estate Commission's (TREC) Broker Responsibility Working Group

coronavirus mortgage relief options

If you have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, you might be worried about paying your mortgage or rent. Federal and state governments, as well as banks and loan servicers, have announced plans to help those that are struggling.

If you can pay your mortgage, pay your mortgage. If you can’t pay your mortgage, or can only pay a portion, contact your mortgage loan servicer immediately.

CARES Act Relief Options for all federally backed mortgages

A new federal law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, puts in place two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

  1. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days after March 18, 2020. Specifically, the CARES Act prohibits lenders and servicers from beginning a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment or sale, during this period of time.
  2. If you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request an extension for up to another 180 days. You must contact your loan servicer to request this forbearance. There will be no additional fees, penalties or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim to have a pandemic-related financial hardship.

Mortgage forbearance

  • Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to pause (suspend), or reduce your mortgage payments for a limited period of time while you regain your financial footing.
  • Forbearance doesn’t mean your payments are forgiven or erased. You are still required to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future.
  • Make sure you understand how the forbearance will be repaid. There can be different forbearance programs or options, depending on the type of your loan.
  • If and when your income is restored, reach out to your servicer and resume making payments as soon as you can so your future obligation is limited.

Depending on the kind of loan you have, there may be different forbearance options.

At the end of the forbearance, your options can include paying all of your missed payments at one time, spread out over a period of months, or added as additional payments or a lump sum at the end of your mortgage.

Moratoriums suspend or stop foreclosure

Foreclosure is when the lender takes back the property after the homeowner fails to make required payments on a mortgage.

Foreclosure processes differ by state. Under federal law, a servicer generally cannot start the state foreclosure process until your loan is more than 120 days past due. There can be exceptions depending on your forbearance or loss mitigation program.

Servicers have to work with you to avoid foreclosure. The Homeowner’s Guide to Success  explains the federal law and what to do if you can’t pay your mortgage.

What mortgage relief options do I qualify for?

Your mortgage relief options depend on who owns or backs your mortgage.

  1. Figure out who services your mortgage.
  2. Figure out if your mortgage is federally backed.

To be eligible for protections under the CARES Act your mortgage must be federally owned / backed by a federal agency or entity (HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, or USDA). Most mortgages are federally backed.

If you don’t know who owns or backs your mortgage, you can call your servicer. The servicer has an obligation to provide you, to the best of its knowledge, the name, address, and telephone number of who owns your loan. Your mortgage documents and note may also tell you, especially if you have a VA or FHA loan. 

Borrowers with a mortgage not backed by the federal government

If you have a mortgage loan that is not backed by one of the federal agencies or entities listed above, so the loan is not covered by the CARES Act, contact your loan servicer. You can find your servicer’s name on your mortgage statement or by searching the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS)  website.

How do I request forbearance or mortgage relief?

To request mortgage relief, you’ll need to reach out to your servicer. To ensure that you are ready for that conversation we’ve got some information to help you prepare. Servicers may have scripts that they use when they talk to you. You can review scripts from Fannie Mae  and Freddie Mac , to help you get a sense of what to expect.

  1. Call your servicer
  2. Questions to ask
    • What options are available to help temporarily reduce or suspend my payments?
    • Are there forbearance, loan modification, or other options applicable to my situation?
    • Can you waive late fees on my mortgage account?
  3. Get it in writing.

What do I do once I’m receiving a mortgage relief option?

While you’re in the forbearance period, or working under another mortgage relief option, there are a number of things to do to continue to protect yourself. This advice applies to both a CARES Act forbearance and other mortgage relief that you might receive.

  • Keep written documentation on hand. 
  • Pay attention to your monthly mortgage statement. 
  • Stop or change auto-payments for your mortgage. 
  • Keep an eye on your credit. Once your income is restored, contact your servicer and resume your payments. 
  • If you’re continuing to receive some income that turns out to be more than you need for your bills and expenses (including anything you keep paying on your mortgage), consider putting the extra money away so you can use it to pay off what’s needed later. 
  • Your property taxes and insurance should continue be paid if your mortgage has an escrow account, but you may want to confirm with your servicer. If your mortgage does not have an escrow account, you will be responsible for these payments.

How do I repay my forbearance?

After your forbearance period ends, you will have to make arrangements with your servicer to repay any amount suspended or paused.

Under the CARES Act, if you have a federally backed mortgage, you also can request an extension of the forbearance for up to an additional 180 days.

The method of repayment varies depending on your loan and the options offered. Not all borrowers will be eligible for all options. You should take steps to be aware of how these programs work and what you can expect in terms of repaying these amounts.

Generally, repayment of forbearance occurs by the amount being repaid:

  • in one lump sum at the end of the forbearance period
  • added onto your existing monthly payments over a set number of months
  • added to the end of your loan as additional payments or as a lump sum

Just as forbearance may differ between the federally backed agencies or entities, so does the repayment of the forbearances.

Do renters have protections?

If you are renting from an owner who has a federally backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions. If your landlord has a federally backed mortgage or multi-family mortgage, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent for 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020, the effective date of the CARES Act. After the 120-day period is up, the landlord cannot require you, the tenant, to vacate until providing you with a thirty-day notice to vacate.

This information was obtained from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website. Please find more detailed information on their site.