Federal Housing Administration expands assistance options for borrowers struggling to make mortgage payments

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The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that it is expanding and enhancing its set of loss mitigation options used to help borrowers struggling to make mortgage payments on their FHA-insured mortgages.

The enhancements extend FHA’s COVID-19 loss mitigation options to all eligible borrowers who fall behind on their mortgage payments, regardless of the cause of their delinquency, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The department says the updates also enable mortgage servicers to use the full 30% of FHA’s partial claim option, rather than the previously permitted 25%, to help maximize the number of borrowers able to retain their homes.

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The mandatory effective date of the changes is April 30, 2023, but mortgage servicers may begin offering these options to borrowers immediately, HUD said.

“We are committed to ensuring that no FHA borrower experiences foreclosure unnecessarily,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. “FHA’s COVID-19 forbearances and streamlined COVID-19 loss mitigation options have successfully helped millions of struggling borrowers in the last two fiscal years alone. Our action today lets us capitalize on what we have learned through the pandemic to continue helping borrowers avoid foreclosure, regardless of the nature of their hardship.”

According to the news release, for all FHA-insured Single Family Title II forward mortgages, FHA will:

  • Extend temporary COVID-19 Recovery loss mitigation options to all eligible borrowers, including non-occupant borrowers, regardless of the nature of their hardship. Servicers must assess all borrowers who are in default or who are at risk of defaulting (imminent default) using FHA’s COVID-19 Recovery loss mitigation “waterfall” of options.
  • Update the Partial Claim components of both FHA’s COVID-19 Recovery Standalone Partial Claim and the COVID-19 Recovery Modification by raising the maximum partial claim amount from 25 percent of the mortgage’s unpaid principal balance to the maximum 30 percent allowed by statute. This increase will help more borrowers who cannot return to making their current mortgage payments to reduce their mortgage balance to a level that permits them to achieve a target payment reduction of at least 25 percent despite today’s higher interest rates.
  • Extend the availability of FHA’s COVID-19 Recovery loss mitigation options for 18 months past the April 30, 2023, mandatory effective date for servicers. The temporary COVID-19 Recovery options were previously scheduled to expire at the official end of the COVID-19 National Emergency. This change removes the uncertainties associated with the timing of the end of the National Emergency.
  • Expand the definition of imminent default to include borrowers who qualified for or used U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Funds (HAF). With this change, servicers will be able to offer loss mitigation options to borrowers who qualified for or used HAF funds and may no longer technically be delinquent but require further assistance to avoid redefault.
  • Provide incentive payments to servicers for the successful completion of COVID-19 Recovery options. Incentive payments are part of FHA’s standard loss mitigation options but are not currently available to servicers for COVID-19 Recovery options. These incentives will help to compensate servicers for the cost and effort of assisting borrowers with COVID-19 Recovery loss mitigation options.
  • To simplify loss mitigation options for servicers and facilitate the transition to the COVID-19 Recovery loss mitigation options for all eligible borrowers, FHA is temporarily suspending the use of its FHA-Home Affordable Modification (FHA-HAMP) options concurrent with today’s Mortgagee Letter.