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Fannie Mae: Assistance Available to Owners of Disaster-Impacted Properties

Hurricane Delta  made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane Friday night in southwest Louisiana, miles from where Hurricane Laura made landfall six weeks ago. Property data analysts at CoreLogic last week reported hundreds of thousands of homes at risk of storm surge destruction by Delta.

In a statement re-released Monday, Fannie Mae reminded those impacted by hurricanes, fires, and all manner of natural disaster, of available mortgage assistance and relief options.

Fannie Mae’s guidelines for single-family mortgages impacted by a natural disaster stipulate: homeowners may request mortgage assistance by contacting their mortgage servicer following a disaster; mortgage servicers are authorized to suspend or reduce a homeowner's mortgage payments for up to 90 days–even without establishing contact–if the servicer believes the homeowner was affected by the disaster; and homeowners affected by a disaster are often eligible to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.

Furthermore, during this temporary payment break, homeowners will not incur late fees; foreclosure and other legal proceedings are suspended, and a number of options available to potentially help homeowners catch up on missed payments, the GSE stated, adding that "homeowners currently on a COVID-19-related forbearance plan who are subsequently impacted by the storm or fires should contact their mortgage servicer to discuss options.

Rapid population growth in coastal cities has made these prime real estate markets more vulnerable to the increasing number of extreme weather events, according to a 2017 report.

study by The Journal of Flood Risk Management last spring also examined the effects of storm frequency and intensity on housing values. The study found that, "higher storm exposure accelerates the housing price discount caused by augmented flood risk."

According to the NOAA's recent forecasts, hurricane season could produce 16 to 18 storms nationwide this year. A recent survey found that, while 86% of homeowners in high-risk states say they feel prepared for this year's hurricane season, one-third haven't taken any steps to actually prepare against storm damage.

After Hurricane Laura struck last month, Tom Larsen, Principal for Insurance Solutions at CoreLogic, commented on the importance of "the correct valuation of reconstruction cost, one of the core tenets of property insurance ..."

“Homeowners, mortgage lenders, and insurers need to work together to ensure properties are fully protected and insured. CoreLogic data has found a correlation in mortgage delinquencies and catastrophes, which could point to a serious issue of under-insurance trends.”

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 [email protected].

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