If you’re considering delaying your mortgage payments during this economic recession, you may want to reconsider.
Due to COVID-19, many Americans have lost their jobs or have experienced a reduction in income. As a result, it’s a struggle to pay bills, especially larger bills such as a mortgage, even if you received a stimulus check.
If you’ve been in that situation, your mortgage company may have offered you an option to push back your mortgage payments until your income gets back to normal.
An agreement between you and your mortgage company to reduce or delay your monthly home payments for a certain amount of time is called ‘forbearance.’ While forbearance may sound like a good solution, it can actually cause more problems and stress. How?
First, it’s important to understand that mortgage forbearance is not the same as mortgage forgiveness. Forbearance gives you relief upfront by hitting the pause button on your payments (which is called a “payment suspension”), but you still have to pay back the total of all those mortgage payments that you missed.
It’s important to read the fine print because while certain mortgage companies may allow you to set up a repayment plan, many of them will require you to pay a lump sum once your forbearance period has ended.
For example, if your mortgage payment is $950 a month, and you agree to a 90-day forbearance plan, that means that you are suspending 3 months worth of mortgage payments, which equals $2,850.
Mortgage forbearance does not mean mortgage forgiveness.
While it’s helpful to not have a mortgage payment for 3 months, the downside is that you’ll most likely have to pay that back all at once in a lump sum.
Going back to the hypothetical example above, if your mortgage payments were suspended for July, August, and September, you would have to pay $2,850 in October PLUS your regular monthly mortgage for October PLUS all of your other monthly bills.
So in October, you would owe $3,800 to your mortgage company alone.[Also, it’s important to note that during your forbearance plan, you still have to continue to pay your HOA fees and homeowners insurance even if your mortgage payments have been suspended.]
If you fail to pay back the lump sum that you owe from your forbearance plan, your mortgage company will file a foreclosure on your home. If you won’t be starting a new job where you’ll have the money to pay back that lump sum, your home will be at risk.
So how can you avoid losing your home? That’s a great question that has a real solution. One way to avoid losing your home is to get into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. This can save your home since you can spread the lump sum that you owe over 5-year repayment plan.
Depending on how high your mortgage is or how long your forbearance plan is/was, you may owe several thousand dollars in mortgage arrears (the total amount of mortgage payments that were temporarily suspended).
If it’s not possible to pay that back, a Chapter 13 could protect your family from losing your house.
Even if saving your home isn’t an option at this point, it may still benefit you to file for bankruptcy so that your mortgage company and other creditors can’t take money out of your bank account or paychecks (also known as a “garnishment“).
If you accumulated other debts while you were off of work, bankruptcy can protect you from those creditors coming after you for payment.
Either way, it’s beneficial to talk to a professional to find out which options could help you get back on track financially.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed about being behind on your mortgage payments and other bills, you can text me or call me at (502) 423-2593, and I’ll assess your situation for free.
There’s no time like the present to obtain peace of mind for you and your family. I look forward to speaking with you!
All the best,
Tracy L. Hirsch
Need a free consultation? Text or call me at (502) 435-2593!