Foreclosure is a topic that would cause anxiety during regular times without the added uncertainty that came with the 2020 housing market. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a great many industries out of normalcy, and the real estate market was no different. Everything related to the housing market changed as the world dealt with a new normal, including both state and federal pauses on foreclosures around the country. For example, in the early stages of the pandemic, Massachusetts mandated a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures that were not deemed ‘mandatory.’ Understanding when the foreclosures will resume can help you create a plan if you are either facing a potential foreclosure or have already started foreclosure proceedings.
Why were foreclosures paused?
The pandemic sent shock waves through the economy, impacting families and homeowners who experienced unemployment or reduced hours. Businesses everywhere suffered, and according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, there are an estimated 2 million homeowners who are facing forbearance on their homes. While these numbers are down from the height of the pandemic, according to their data, this number remains higher than officials would prefer.
At both a state and federal level, the moratorium offered homeowners time to create both financial and housing plans. These measures, however, do not apply to abandoned or vacant housing. The suspension is aimed to assist homeowners who are living on their property, not those who have vacated their property.
Federal vs. State Moratoriums
Federal and state moratoriums determine the differences in decisions made by state or federal governments. President Biden’s decision to extend foreclosures past many of the state designations afforded homeowners more time as other organizations related to housing made their decisions on timing.
In Massachusetts, the statewide act that allowed a temporary pause on foreclosures expired on October 17, 2020; however, the federal government enforced its own moratorium that will extend through July 31, 2021. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) concluded on June 28, 2021, that the federal suspension would end on July 31, 2021. Additionally, they will put into effect several steps that will work to support homeowners who are potentially facing foreclosure.
What comes next?
While the federal moratorium will expire July 31 with no plans to extend further, the CFPB has enacted steps that will extend from August 31, 2021, through January 1, 2022, further continuing the window for homeowners to hopefully avoid foreclosure. These steps will cushion some of the fallout from the fast-approaching deadline.
The steps include:
- Borrowers must complete a loss mitigation application and have it reviewed before foreclosure proceedings can begin.
- There must be a confirmation that the property is abandoned before starting foreclosure proceedings.
- There must be a demonstrated effort by loan services to communicate with the borrowers 90 days before foreclosure proceedings.
While these steps cannot replace the foreclosure moratorium, they offer a little more time to those facing looming foreclosures.
While there are certainly steps being put into place for those struggling following COVID-19, most people still have a lot of general questions about foreclosures, specifically regarding when they are at risk and what happens once they have been contacted regarding going into foreclosure. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding foreclosure:
Q: I’ve received notices that I am going into foreclosure. What should my next step be?
The first piece of advice would be to not ignore notices from your lender. It may be tempting to put your head in the sand when faced with such a stressful situation, but this will only make for a worse situation for you down the line. Reach out for advice from a real estate agent or another expert as to what your options might be and what steps you should be taking to appropriately handle that situation.
Between resources available online and reaching out to an expert, you should be able to determine what steps you should take that will be best for your specific circumstance.
Q: Is it possible to save my home once I’ve received notices of foreclosure?
It may, in fact, be possible to stay in your home following notices of foreclosure with the proper support. Knowing what resources are available to you during this time and acting quickly is key to potentially keeping your home. While you may have the option to stay or leave, you’ll want to determine what kind of situation you’re in before proceeding.
For example, determining the reason you have fallen behind on payments is a great first step. If the reason you’re falling behind on your mortgage payments is due to an immediate and potentially short-term financial situation, you may be able to be put on a temporary forbearance plan that can help minimize or pause your payments. Reach out to your mortgage company to learn more about the plans that they offer.
We can help
If you still have questions regarding your specific situation, we encourage you to reach out to us for more guidance and information. We know that the loss of your home can be emotional and stress-inducing without the proper support along the way. Dealing with a trusted real estate agent specializing in foreclosures can ease the strain of such a challenging situation.
Our licensed real estate agents will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding this process and assist you in your next steps. Navigating conversations with your lender and understanding what you need to do to either avoid foreclosure or move through it seamlessly can feel daunting. Reach out to us for more information on how we can work with you to make this a more straightforward and smooth process.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 781-309-7085.