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While Forbearance Activity Decreases, Many Homeowners Remain in Plans

house, neighborhood

Based on the latest forbearance and call volume survey from Mortgage Banker's Association [1] (MBA), the number of loans actively in forbearance decreased 6 basis points, to 5.14% from 5.20% of servicers' portfolio volume from March 1-7.

The MBA estimates that 2.6 million homeowners are in forbearance plans.

By lending agency, the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance decreased to 2.88%, a 6-basis-point improvement.

Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance decreased 12 basis points to 7.16%.

For portfolio loans and private-label securities (PLS), the numbers remained unchanged from a week before at 9.05%.

The percentage of loans in forbearance for independent mortgage bank (IMB) servicers decreased 6 basis points to 5.45%, and the percentage of loans in forbearance for depository servicers declined 9 basis points to 5.19%.

"One year after the onset of the pandemic, many homeowners are approaching 12 months in their forbearance plan. That is likely why call volume to servicers picked up in the prior week to the highest level since last April, and forbearance exits increased to their highest level since January. With new forbearance requests unchanged, the share of loans in forbearance decreased again," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. "Homeowners with federally backed loans have access to up to 18 months of forbearance, but they need to contact their servicer to receive this additional relief."

Fratantoni added, "The American Rescue Plan provides needed support for homeowners who are continuing to struggle during these challenging times, and stimulus payments are being delivered to households now. We anticipate that this support, along with the improving job market, will help many homeowners to get back on their feet."

Frantanoni is one of several insiders who have weighed in on the Rescue Plan. [2] and what it means for the industry.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced extensions of several measures that the agency says will align COVID-19 mortgage relief policies across the federal government. This announcement, which extends temporary measures (previously set to expire March 31) until the end of June follows the White House's February 16 moratoria extension [3] applied to all federally backed mortgages through the same period.

Said measures include provisions for borrowers with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages who may be eligible for an additional three-month extension of COVID-19 forbearance, according to a press release [4]. This additional three-month extension allows borrowers to be in forbearance for up to 18 months.