The numerous California communities hit hard by recent desolating—and spreading—wildfires can get at least a semblance of relief from Fannie Mae in the form of mortgage assistance, the GSE reminded borrowers in a statement.
Under the GSE’s guidelines for single-family mortgages, homeowners affected by the record-breaking blazes qualify to stop paying their monthly mortgage for up to 12 months, it says. During that payment pause, the homeowners will not rack up any late fees and delinquencies will not be reported to the credit bureaus.
As for mortgage servicers, they have the go-ahead to suspend or trim a homeowner’s payments immediately for up to 90 days without any contact with the homeowner, if the servicer thinks the owner has been affected by a disaster, Fannie Mae explains. In many cases, help is also available via payment forbearance of up to 12 months.
In addition to these direct modifications, servicers must postpone foreclosure and other legal proceedings if they believe the borrower has been affected by a disaster, Fannie's statement notes.
“Our thoughts are with the families and communities impacted by the devastating California wildfires,” Carlos Perez, SVP and Chief Credit Officer at Fannie Mae said. “Fannie Mae and our servicing partners are focused on ensuring mortgage assistance is available during this challenging time. We urge everyone in the area to be safe, and we encourage homeowners affected by the fires to contact their mortgage servicer for assistance as soon as possible.”
Recent data from Realtor.com reports the fires have burned more than 130,000 acres and more than 200 square miles, “destroying 1,060 residences, 18 commercial structures, and 477 outbuildings.” Additional current damage tallies up to 186 residences, 8 commercial structures, and 64 outbuildings impacted by the ongoing blaze.
Homeowners can get in touch with Fannie Mae directly by calling 1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643). For more information, they can also log on to www.knowyouroptions.com/relief.