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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, May 29, 2020

Help for homeowners during recovery from pandemic




With the outbreak of COVID-19 this spring and the stay-at-home orders issued for most of the tri-state area, residents have spent more time in their houses than ever before. Our homes have taken on a new meaning as they became our new offices, playgrounds, sporting fields, entertainment venues and a safe refuge.

The good news is the U.S. homeownership rate increased at the beginning of this year, new analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows. The Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey shows the number of homeowners rose by 2.6 million in the first quarter of 2020, bringing the U.S. homeownership rate to 65.3%.

The number of homeowner households has been climbing since the third quarter of 2015 and homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter 2020. The data reveal that millions of families were able to hunker down in a place they owned as the pandemic unfolded.

Homeowners who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 should be aware of mortgage payment options available.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that homeowners continue to make their monthly mortgage payments if they can. However, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced options for homeowners if their ability to pay their mortgage is impacted by COVID-19.

If a loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, borrowers might be eligible to delay making their monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period during in which late fees won’t be incurred and foreclosure and other legal proceedings will be suspended.

You can check online to see if your loan is owned by either of these entities at www.knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup (Fannie Mae) and ww3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup (Freddie Mac).

Borrowers impacted by the coronavirus are encouraged to contact their mortgage service providers to discuss mortgage assistance and relief options.

In times of economic uncertainty, homeowners must be vigilant and steer clear of bad actors who might want to steal personal information related to their property. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is urging consumers to watch out for fraudulent calls, emails or text messages posing as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, requests for upfront cash for mortgage relief, or unsolicited offers for mortgage assistance.

To find a new homebuilder or Realtor in the Greater Chattanooga area, visit the HBAGC online directory at HBAGC.net.