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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB provides update on housing insecurity during pandemic

Federal Issues CFPB Covid-19 Mortgages Forbearance CARES Act Consumer Finance

Federal Issues

On June 22, the CFPB issued a release with data updating its March report on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on housing insecurity, finding some improvement but still elevated risks for borrowers relative to prior periods. The report summarized data and research regarding the impact of the pandemic on the rental and mortgage market, and specifically its effects on low income and minority households. According to the report, as of December 2020, 11 million renter and homeowner households were significantly overdue on their regular housing payments, which placed them, especially Black and Hispanic households, at a heightened risk of their homes being subjected to foreclosure or eviction. The report also indicated that as of January 2021, there were 2.7 million borrowers in active forbearance. As of June 2021, 600,000 fewer consumers were in mortgage forbearance than in January 2021, with forbearance rates significantly decreasing in April when many borrowers exited forbearance after reaching 12 months. According to the CFPB, this was a positive indication because many of these borrowers would have qualified for longer extensions of total forbearance. The release also notes, however, that for borrowers who have exited forbearance, payment deferrals or partial claims were the most common repayment option, and that “[o]f the borrowers still in forbearance, many may face a precarious financial situation upon exiting.” Additionally, while indicating that foreclosure rates remained at historic lows during the first quarter of 2021, with 0.54 percent of mortgages in foreclosure, the release also notes that the CARES Act and direction from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs), FHA, VA, and USDA “have prohibited lenders and servicers of GSE and federally-backed loans from beginning or proceeding with foreclosures.” Seriously delinquent mortgage borrowers remain approximately three times higher than before the pandemic, with 1.9 million mortgage borrowers over three months behind on mortgage payments or in active foreclosure, with more than one in 10 borrowers with an FHA loan remaining seriously delinquent on their mortgage, a rate higher than the peak during the Great Recession. The release also notes that during the pandemic, mortgage forbearance and delinquency have been significantly more common in communities of color and lower-income communities (covered by Infobytes here).

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