COVID-19 Mortgage Relief and Other Options
As a community we continually find ourselves challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin is not yet a major center of infection but regardless of viral infection, the economic fallout is already taking a toll on many Wisconsinites.
The intent of this page is not to sell you on our services. Rather, we have been getting a large number of questions from home owners that want to know what their options are during this difficult time. Therefore, we wanted to put a guide together with some preliminary and evolving thoughts on COVID-19 mortgage relief and general options you may be able to explore besides just selling your house.
However, if you’ve already decided you need to sell your house or would at least like to discuss your options, please head to our cash offer or company page to learn more about our services and our team. As noted in various place on our site, we’re taking many precautions such as virtual tours, social distancing, wearing face masks and gloves, and more for those that might want to sell their house right now. You can view our precautionary measures here.
Now onto the topic at hand. At Wisconsin House Buyers we always do our best to provide quality content but this is obviously a quickly evolving situation so it’s important to remember that this is only a subset of potential angles you may be able to take. And of course this is not legal advice and you should seek legal council should you have any questions.
Fact First Resources on COVID-19 & Stimulus
Let’s first start with the fact that there’s a ton of misinformation out there. We won’t speculate here and will provide only the top scientific and governmental links here.
Map updated 04/06/2020, source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html#map
Let’s begin with the most referenced national and state resources specific to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- U.S. Virus & Infection Data: CDC.gov
- Google consolidated data, symptoms, prevention, treatment info: Google.com
- FEMA Facts vs. Fiction and doing your part: FEMA.gov
- Wisconsin Public Health: DHS.gov
- Case information: DHS data and DHS Map
- BE CAREFUL OF SCAMMERS AND FAKE CHARITIES: WI DATCP.gov and WDFI.org
- Wisconsin Dept of Workforce Development (Unemployment filings): DWD.gov
- Frequently asked questions from WI Dept of Workforce Development: FAQ
- Small Business Administration guidance and loan info (SBA Loans): SBA.gov
While those are some of the primary resources right now, there is so much information out there regarding the virus and relief efforts that it’s obviously difficult or impossible to provide all of them for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask any questions. We’re happy to discuss options with you and see if we can help in any way possible. Also, check back in on these sites as your own personal situation continues to evolve because there will undoubtedly be further relief efforts, extensions, etc. depending on the severity and length of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic fallout.
Mortgage Lender Relief
If you own a home and are having trouble making payments, you’re not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of. This unprecedented crisis caught most everybody off guard and has left many in difficult spots.
If you’re looking for a broader guide on “typical” non-COVID related tips to avoid foreclosure, we have a very comprehensive guide with foreclosure prevention options here.
If your mortgage is federally backed, there is a moratorium on foreclosures as well as a right to forbearance, or payment relief on your mortgage under the CARES act passed in March. To find out if your mortgage is federally backed, reference the list on ConsumerFinance.gov here. They also include dates and more specifics about the moratorium and forbearance programs.
Also, keep in mind that even if you financed with a private lender originally that doesn’t mean the Feds aren’t currently backing it. Often, mortgages are sold to a network of servicers and the big mortgage holders Fannie and Freddie Mac alone hold or back about 50% of all mortgages.
As of the time of this writing there is no statewide moratorium on rent or mortgage payments. Who knows, maybe that comes along at some point. For now, it’s up to you to reach out and ask for help if needed. We’ve searched around and almost all lenders have mortgage forbearance programs for anywhere from one to six months right now. Indeed, the Fed’s are encouraging the same behavior as what’s covered under the CARES act, referenced here.
The advantages of these programs include no late payment fees, no adverse credit reporting to credit agencies, and are foregoing foreclosure proceedings. Obviously, these programs will not be around forever so if you even think you could be short on payments in the near future, you might want to continue reading and check out the links provided to see if you qualify now or may soon.
How do you take advantage of these COVID-19 mortgage relief programs? As far as we can tell and from what we’ve heard from others, it’s quite simple. Just login to your mortgage service’s website and look for COVID-19 relief programs. You’ll often see a phone number or link with a form for just this purpose. Tell them why you need the assistance and you shouldn’t have a problem getting relief. In many cases they are acting simply on the “honor system” because they just can’t verify everything they need to right now. We’d recommend that you be honest about your situation rather than making something up to try and get relief when you don’t actually need it. You never know, they might circle back to perform that due diligence soon enough. For further information and guidance on contacting your mortgage servicer, ConsumerFinance.gov has again come up with a handy list for you.
Interested In Becoming a Landlord?
This may be the last thing you necessarily want to do right now. After all, keeping people out of our immediate vicinity is a big part of what we are all doing right now to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus. In addition and as a landlord ourselves, not everybody is suited to dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a landlord. Think long and hard about this particular options before deciding to go forward.
However, if you’re not in the more vulnerable population or if you can create some space and cleansing techniques in your property for both you and the tenant to follow, this could be something you want to consider. Perhaps it’s just renting out a room, or maybe you have the capability to rent out an entire floor.
Also, considering the nature of this crisis, be mindful that there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. Nobody really knows stage 2, 3, and 4 of the crisis or who will end up affected that currently is not. As a landlord, that would mean being cautious of placing tenants that may not be able to pay. Go through all the proper qualification and background checks to ensure you are comfortable with your decision and can sleep at night. One benefit if you’re planning to be an owner-occupant landlord is that you have a little more discretion when choosing who you decide to live with. Remember, this is not legal advice. Consider consulting an attorney should you decide to look into the landlord situation.
Here are some helpful landlord resources for you should you want to research this option a little further:
Other Monthly Payment Obligations
Cost cutting should be top of mind for anybody that has lost their income or is concerned about that happening in the future. Don’t just focus on your rent or mortgage payment. Look at other monthly obligations because quite a few of these services are offering temporary payment relief as well. Here’s some of the likely obligations to consider asking for COVID-19 payment relief on:
- Car payments – Inquire with your lender
- Credit cards
- Insurance (Home, car, personal articles, business, etc.)
- Utilities (Municipal water/sewer/garbage, electrical, gas)
- Don’t forget about internet service providers, cell & phone services, and other “semi-essential” services
From a personal financial perspective, we’d say just about anybody should consider reviewing their spending history for the last couple of months and making cuts where necessary. While we all need to do what’s in our own best interest, don’t forget that there are many suffering out there. Let’s all try and do our part to support the small businesses and individuals that have been hit hardest by this disaster.
For those interested in doing your part, whatever part that may look like, here’s a couple of national and local resources to get you started.
Good luck out there and stay safe everybody.