In an effort to impose social distancing measures amid a still-raging pandemic, the Federal Housing Administration on Wednesday issued waivers on standard servicing procedures that require in-person contact.
The three temporary changes to theSingle Family Housing Policy Handbookwill remain in place until Dec. 31. The first allows servicers to find alternative means of interviewing borrowers regarding early default interventions when their FHA-insured forward and home equity conversion mortgages face foreclosure danger.
Another measure waives the signature requirement on occupancy certifications from HECM borrowers. The final change, aimed at increasing financial relief for HECM borrowers, waives the $5,000 arrearages cap on recalculated repayment plans.
Seniors account for many reverse mortgage borrowers; that makes such measures all the more important, Acting HUD Secretary Matthew Ammon said in an announcement about the waivers.
"President Biden has made it clear that protecting the health, safety, and homeownership security of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including seniors, are urgent and immediate priorities," he said. "The policy waivers issued today are another important step in addressing these priorities."
The servicing measures come as the expiration of the first CARES Act-related 12-month forbearance periods approach next month. Seriously delinquent mortgages — those late in payment by 90 days or more — totaled 3.43 million at the end of 2020 according to Black Knight’s latest forbearance report. December’s overall delinquency rate was 6.08%, up from 3.4% the same month the year before.
FHA extended the deadline for borrowers to request a new COVID-19-related forbearance through March 31, 2021.