March 24, 2020
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together guarantee about half of all home loans in the U.S., have been actively engaged in taking steps to ease the impact of COVID-19 on consumer mortgage loans, leading the way for the mortgage industry. So, what does that mean for servicers of mortgage loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
As covered in a previous article, foreclosures and evictions have been suspended for at least 60 days.
Further, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have increased efforts to keep borrowers in their homes through added loss mitigation options. While they have always offered a suite of loss mitigation options, they have added COVID-19-specific options and guidance to their repertoires, as follows:
The measures were announced, and went into effect immediately, on March 18, 2020. The options are available for “borrowers who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to a decline in income resulting from the impact of COVID-19, regardless of whether they have contracted the virus.” Additionally, unlike some traditional loss mitigation options, “[b]orrowers are eligible for forbearance regardless of whether their property is owner occupied, a second home or an investment property.”
These relief options, like other loss mitigation options, are not automatic. Rather, borrowers must apply for these through their loan servicer. However, unlike most traditional options, verbal verification of hardship due to COVID-19 is sufficient, and paperwork is not initially required (and can come later), speeding up the process.
Like with foreclosure and eviction, crafty plaintiff’s lawyers may attempt to make a case under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (“WVCCPA”) against loan servicers that fail to comply with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidance. To avoid claims of misrepresentations in debt collection under W. Va. Code § 46A-2-127, or other similar claims, servicers of loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should use caution before making any representations to borrowers that loss mitigation options are unavailable. Further, servicers should be sure to review and understand the guidance issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
While this article is not intended to provide legal advice, the authors are available for retention to assist with an in-depth analysis regarding compliance with this new and evolving guidance.
 http://www.freddiemac.com/about/covid-19.html; https://www.fanniemae.com/portal/media/corporate-news/2020/covid-homeowner-assistance-options-7000.html; https://sf.freddiemac.com/articles/news/guide-bulletin-2020-4?_gl=1*1agqaf7*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1ODEwMTg1MzcuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JenFhUmdObTk1d0lWQ3NESUNoME02QVE2RUFBWUFTQUFFZ0ktT19EX0J3RQ..*_gcl_dc*R0NMLjE1ODEwMTg1MzcuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JenFhUmdObTk1d0lWQ3NESUNoME02QVE2RUFBWUFTQUFFZ0ktT19EX0J3RQ.. ; https://singlefamily.fanniemae.com/media/22006/display#page=351
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