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Decline in Active Forbearance is Largest in Six Months

Following a five-week streak in improvement when it comes to mortgage forbearance volumes across the country, the data team at Black Knight reports not only the sixth week of declining activity but also the largest dip in six months.

In fact, the number of plans in one week dropped by 228,000—a 9% drop in over a single week, something the experts say was "not expected."

Data Analytics and Servicing Author Andy Walden at Black Knight says "the decline is largely driven by early forbearance entrants exiting their plans at the 12-month mark (and what would have been their final expiration prior to extensions)."

The improvement was widespread, and all investor classes experienced significant declines in active forbearances.

FHA/VA led the way, with its active forbearance plans falling by 94,000.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's forbearance volumes dropped 69,000, and there was a 65,000 decline in portfolio/PLS plan forbearances in the week ending Tuesday, April 6.

Some 280,000 homeowners exited forbearance this week, representing more than half of all loans being reviewed for extension and removal.

For context, as recently as last week, about eight out of every 10 plans reviewed for extension/removal activity resulted in the extension of forbearance.

New forbearance plans also continue to improve, Black Knight reports, with an estimated 158,000 starts (including re-starts) over the past four weeks. That’s down 18% from the preceding 4-week period

Altogether, the number of active plans is down by 323,000 over the last month—a 12.3% reduction and the strongest rate of improvement since early November. It also puts us down 2.45,000 (-51%) from the peak.

As of April 6, 2.3 million homeowners remain in forbearance, representing 4.4% of all homeowners with mortgages.

With an estimated 500,000 additional forbearance plans with scheduled expirations at the end of April, we could see additional improvements near the end of this month and into early May.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) actions earlier this week could affect forbearance numbers in coming weeks and months. The CFPB has floated a proposal to ensure borrowers aren’t rushed into foreclosure when an unprecedented number of borrowers exit forbearance. The proposed rule would provide a special pre-foreclosure review period that would generally prohibit servicers from starting foreclosure until after December 31, 2021. The CFPB is seeking public input on that date, as well as whether there are more limited ways to achieve the same purpose.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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