Forbearance requests have begun to slow, according to data from Black Knight, but there is a risk of May-related forbearance activity changing that trajectory.
As Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske explained, the rate at which American homeowners have been seeking mortgage forbearances began to slow from the middle of April forward, and Black Knight will monitor this trend to see if it continues.
“After surging at the beginning of April and then rising again near the April 15—when most mortgages become past due and late fees are charged—the number of new forbearance requests has declined in recent weeks,” said Graboske. “While total forbearance volumes continue to mount, daily inflow has begun to taper off. Between 53,000 and 102,000 new plans have been put into place over each of the last nine days, and even the largest single-day volume was less than a quarter of what we saw at the start of April—and may see again next week. What remains an open question at this point is to what degree forbearance requests will look like at the beginning of May—when the next round of mortgage payments become due, and with nearly 30 million Americans newly unemployed in the last month."
“As it is, in an optimistic scenario in which daily forbearance volumes continue to decline by 10% per day, the number of forbearances could peak at approximately 4.5 million in the coming months," Grabsoke adds. "Should current forbearance volumes hold steady through mid-June, more than 8 million homeowners could enter into forbearance plans, representing 16% or more of all mortgages. If that adverse scenario holds true, servicers would be required to advance $4 billion in monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments on GSE mortgages alone. Even under the FHFA’s recent four-month limit on P&I advances, servicers would still be bound to make $16 billion in advance payments over that time span.”
According to Black Knight CEO Anthony Jabbour, the recent Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announcement of a four-month limit on advance obligations for servicers of mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provides the industry with some much-needed clarity.
“Having a four-month end date on the period in which servicers need to advance principal and interest payments on behalf of homeowners in forbearance is extremely helpful to our servicing clients,” said Jabbour. “Still, even knowing that time limit, with today’s number of forbearance plans, servicers are still looking at more than $7 billion dollars in advances over those four months. And the forbearance numbers are climbing steadily, day by day. Clearly, this remains a challenging situation all around.”