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Job Growth Driving More Forbearance Exits

The latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has found the share of loans in forbearance has dropped four basis point to 3.87% for the week of June 27, 2021, from last week’s share of 3.91% [1]. MBA’s latest estimate finds approximately 1.9 million U.S. homeowners currently in forbearance plans. This marked the 18th consecutive week of declines in the number of Americans in plans.

Also declining this week was the share of GSE loans in forbearance, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance decreased three basis points to 1.99% from 2.02%. The share of Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance decreased relative to the prior week, from 5.13% to 5.10%.

The percentage of loans in forbearance for independent mortgage bank (IMB) servicers decreased three basis points from 4.03% to 4.00%, and the percentage of loans in forbearance for depository servicers declined three basis points from 4.14% to 4.11%. The share of other loans (e.g., portfolio and PLS loans) in forbearance decreased relative to the prior week, from 7.97% to 7.92%.

“For the first time since last March, the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance dropped below 2%,” said Mike Fratantoni [2], MBA’s SVP and Chief Economist. “The share in every investor type and almost every loan category dropped as well, bringing the number of homeowners in forbearance below two million. The rate of forbearance exits and new forbearance requests remained at low levels, but we expect the pace of exits to increase with reporting next week for the beginning of July.”

By stage, 10.8% of total loans in forbearance are in the initial forbearance plan stage, 82.9% are in a forbearance extension, while the remaining 6.3% represent forbearance re-entries.

A bright spot is the number of Americans returning to the workforce, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported [3] that the American economy added 850,000 jobs in the month of June. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported [4] that for the week ending June 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 364,000, a decrease of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level, marking the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000.

“Strong job growth in June should provide a springboard for further improvements in the forbearance numbers over the next month,” said Fratantoni.

Of the cumulative forbearance exits for the period from June 1, 2020, through June 27, 2021:

In terms of weekly servicer call center volume, calls decreased relative to the prior week, from 7.2% to 5.9%, with the average call length increasing from 7.6 minutes to 7.8 minutes.