A Special COVID Update
Updated Aug 31, 2020 to reflect new information
"Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of you that have struggled with COVID-19 and the terrible environment that it has created. I am so happy that we have been able to help so many of you to defer your mortgage payments to get through this terrible event. We will continue to be supportive of you and your needs, we want to do all we can to support you and your family, whether it is through forbearance, refinance or purchasing a new home. Our greatest hope is that you and your family stay safe and well.
Thank you for being a loyal customer."
- Stan Middleman, President & CEO Freedom Mortgage
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Impact of COVID-19 on my mortgage loan:
It is easy to understand why people are confused about their mortgage during this difficult time. There has been a lot of information, misinformation, hype and news that we would like to clarify.
If you are able to make your mortgage payment, you should do so. It is the best way to protect the equity in your home and reduce any amount you may have to pay down the road.
To make your payment, to get additional loan information or to request a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan, we encourage you to use your online account. If you do not have an online account, please register for it today. From your online account, you can make payments, send secure messages, sign up for paperless billing, and view statements. If you need to mail in your payment, that is still an option, as well as making payments by phone. Please refer to your billing statement for instructions.
If you are experiencing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency that is impacting your ability to make mortgage payments, relief will be available to you under the federal CARES Act. On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to provide economic relief to individuals and businesses experiencing financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 emergency. Among other things, the CARES Act provides relief for homeowners with mortgage loans during the COVID-19 emergency.
Under the CARES Act, you may request a forbearance if you are experiencing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency and if you have a federally backed mortgage loan such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Administration (VA), or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer allows you to pause (suspend) your mortgage payments for a limited period of time while you regain your financial stability. You may continue to make full or partial payments during Forbearance if you choose to do so.
If you meet these two conditions, you are entitled to Forbearance for an initial period of up to 180 days and you can request an extension of up to an additional 180 days, for a total of 360 days.
You can request a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan in one step: Just affirm or attest, verbally or in writing (if you prefer), that you have a financial hardship during the COVID-19 emergency. To receive your COVID-19 Forbearance Plan, you do not need to provide us with any documentation showing your hardship.
You can request a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan from your Freedom Mortgage online account by following this link or by selecting Login at the top of this page. You can also request forbearance by calling our Customer Service team at 855-690-5900. By phone, you will be able to request forbearance through our automated system by selecting from a menu of options. You can also elect to make the request by speaking with a Customer Service representative instead. A Customer Service representative can also assist you if you are having trouble logging into your online account. Our normal business hours are Monday to Friday 8 am to 10 pm, Saturday 9 am to 6 pm ET.
That is all there is to requesting a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan. When we receive your affirmation or attestation online, over the telephone, or through the U.S. Postal Service, we will place your account in a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan.
Important details about a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan.
A COVID-19 Forbearance Plan is a temporary suspension of your mortgage payments, while you work through your short-term financial challenges. Forbearance does not mean your payments are forgiven or erased - you will have to repay any suspended payments in the future.
If you request a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan, we will suspend your payments for an initial term of up to 180 days.
You may also request a Forbearance extension for an additional period of up to 180 days (for a total of up to 360 days) from your Freedom Mortgage online account by following this link or by selecting Login at the top of this page. You can also request a forbearance extension by calling our Customer Service team at 855-690-5900. By phone, you will be able to request an extension of your forbearance through our automated system by selecting from a menu of options. You can also elect to make the request by speaking with a Customer Service representative instead. A Customer Service representative can also assist you if you are having trouble logging into your online account. Our normal business hours are Monday to Friday 8 am to 10 pm, Saturday 9 am to 6 pm ET.
During a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan, you do not need to make mortgage payments, but you can make payments, or partial payments, if you choose to. If you can continue to make payments during a COVID -19 Forbearance Plan, it is in your best interest to do so. The fewer missed payments, the less you will owe down the road. If you are able to pay any amount, you may do so online, by calling one of our agents or make/send the payment in the method you have used in the past.
You may shorten a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan term at any time. If your financial situation changes during the term of your COVID-19 Forbearance Plan and you are ready to resume making regular payments, please contact us immediately. We can guide you through your post forbearance programs available to you based on your circumstances and your loan type.
Benefits of a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan:
- Temporarily suspends your monthly payments - giving you time to improve your financial situation and get back on your feet.
- The monthly payments suspended during your COVID-19 Forbearance Plan will not be reported as late to the credit bureaus. If your loan is current at the time of entering into a forbearance plan, then each month you are in the forbearance plan we will report the status of the account to the credit reporting agencies as current. If you are able to bring the loan current during the forbearance plan, we will report the account as current. Additionally, monthly payments under a post-forbearance program to help you catch up on your mortgage payments will also not be reported as late to the credit bureaus.
- During your Forbearance Plan, we will not charge you any additional fees, penalties or interest (other than the interest you already owe each month).
At the end of my Forbearance Plan:
Your Forbearance Plan is only a temporary suspension of payments. Near the end of your Forbearance Plan we will work with you to help you determine the best program that may be available to help you catch up on your mortgage payments. The programs available to you may vary based on your circumstances and the type of loan you have. If you are ready to resume making payments at the end of your forbearance period, we will work with you to discuss the programs that may be available to you to repay the suspended payments. If you are unsure of the type of loan you have, you can find it by visiting our Loan Type Look-up Tool, or by checking on your mortgage documents or by calling our Customer Service team at 855-690-5900.
The following information provides some of the options to repay forbearance based on loan type. We will update this information as new programs become available so be sure to check back.
FHA does not require lump sum repayment at the end of the forbearance. Homeowners on special COVID-19 Forbearance Plans will be assessed first for eligibility for COVID-19 home retention options no later than at the end of the forbearance period.
One FHA home retention option, called the COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim, places amounts you owe into a no-interest junior loan that is repaid when you refinance your mortgage, sell your home or your mortgage otherwise accelerates or terminates at time of payoff. If you do not qualify for the COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim, other options may be available to help you repay the missed payments including a loan modification. A loan modification adds the payments that were suspended during your Forbearance Plan to the unpaid principal balance of your loan and changes the terms of your loan to enable a more affordable payment.
VA loans are not required to be repaid in a lump sum payment immediately following a CARES Act forbearance. Rather, the VA has a suite of loss mitigation options such as repayment plans and loan modification options to assist borrowers in repaying payments missed under a CARES Act forbearance. In addition, VA is continuing to evaluate other options to further assist borrowers affected by the COVID-19 emergency.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac loans
Homeowners with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible for different repayment options following your forbearance.
You are not required to repay missed payments all at once in a lump sum.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer as options full repayment (known as reinstatement), repayment plan (repay past due amounts over a period of time), a deferment plan (add a non-interest bearing balance payable at the end of the loan), or a loan modification (changes the terms of your loan to enable an affordable payment).
USDA Rural Housing Service Guaranteed Loan Mortgages
USDA Rural Housing Service does not require a lump sum payment at the end of the forbearance. Rather, the USDA has a suite of loss mitigation options such as a repayment plan, term extension, or a loan modification.
For loans that are not federally backed loans.
For loans we service that are not federally backed loans - we will offer the same forbearance options as available under the CARES Act and near the end of the forbearance period we will work with you to discuss repayment plan and/or loan modification options.
We will not require a lump sum payment at the end of the forbearance but rather will discuss other options available to you and allowed by the investor or insurer of your loan.
Possible Relief Options Defined:
- Reinstatement - Paying the total amount outstanding to bring the loan current.
- Repayment Plan - Paying your missed payments by adding an additional amount each month to your regular payment and paying back the amounts due over time. Most repayment plans are between 3 and 12 months.
- Loan Modification - Taking the amount past due and adding it to the principal balance of your loan. This will increase your loan balance by the amount that is past due but bring your payments up to date.
- Partial Claim - A partial claim places the payments that were suspended during your Forbearance Plan into a non-interest bearing junior lien that is repaid when you refinance your mortgage or sell your home or your mortgage otherwise terminates.
- Payment Deferment - Placing the suspended payments at the end of the loan. The deferred amount is non-interest bearing and would be due and payable at maturity of the loan, or earlier upon the sale or transfer of the property, refinance of the mortgage loan, or payoff of the interest-bearing unpaid principal balance.
Action will be required on your part if you are on a Forbearance Plan:
We will make contact with you near the end of your Forbearance Plan to understand your circumstances at that time and work with you to find a solution. If we are not successful reaching you and you do not take any further action, we may not be able to work with you on a solution to help you catch up on your mortgage payments. So please stay in touch and contact us near the end of your forbearance period.
Note: The options that may be available at the end of your Forbearance Plan may vary if your loan was already delinquent prior to March 1, 2020. If your loan was delinquent prior to March 1, 2020, the options mentioned above may not be available to you and you may have to complete a loss mitigation application to determine which options may be available to you. If you're in an active bankruptcy, we recommend you speak with your bankruptcy attorney to see what options may be available to you.
Forbearance Plan Timeframe:
If you experience financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 national emergency that is impacting your ability to pay your mortgage payment, you have a right to request and obtain a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request and obtain an extension for up to an additional 180 days (for up to 360 days total).
Interest Rates are changing and if you are current and not experiencing a financial hardship impacting your payments, you may want to take advantage of low interest rates and refinance.
If you can make your current mortgage payment but are worried about the unknown for future payments, then refinancing may be an option to consider. If a hardship occurs later, a request for a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan can be initiated provided the government's program is still in place.
If you are thinking about refinancing your loan while your loan is in forbearance, there may be certain requirements that will need to be met first, before a refinance can be completed. The requirements will depend on your loan type. We will work with you to explain those requirements and to explore the best option that may be available to you, depending on your circumstances.
What are the benefits of a streamline refinance?
If you have an FHA or VA loan, you may be eligible for a streamline refinance, which allows you to quickly and easily lock in a lower rate and payment with minimal documentation required.
- No minimum credit score and no impact to your credit profile.
- No appraisal required.
- No lender fees.
- Keep the same remaining term as your current loan.
- Lock in a lower rate and lower payment for the long term.
What should I do?
It's very important, especially at this time, to review all your options. Don't miss a mortgage payment without having a plan!
Call us: 855-690-5900
At Freedom we are committed to providing every customer who needs our help with the time and attention they deserve. Yes, we have many callers. But we will do our best to get to each customer to review all options that may be available. We have added resources to handle the heavy call volume. You may also use the prompts and request a call back. This will hold your place in line, and we will call you back when the next available Customer Service agent is available. Our normal business hours are Monday to Friday 8 am to 10 pm, Saturday 9 am to 6 pm ET. We appreciate your patience.
- If you receive an email communication from us, complete the information requested as soon as possible. Your details will be reviewed by our specialists, and someone will respond to you. Our goal is to respond to each customer within 48 hours.
- Many matters may be addressed by accessing your online account on freedommortgage.com. At freedommortgage.com you can view statements, sign up for paperless billing, view/send secure messages and make payments. This is a fast and efficient way to manage your account when it's convenient for you.
- If you can afford to make your mortgage payment, please do so.
Where to seek additional help?
For help in exploring your options, reach out to a housing counselor. Use the CFPB's "Find a Counselor" tool to get a list of counseling agencies approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You can also call the HOPE™ Hotline, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (888) 995-HOPE (4673).
If you're a homeowner in a state included in the federal Hardest Hit Fund you may qualify for assistance.
The Hardest Hit Fund programs vary by state and may include:
- Mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners
- Principal reduction
- Help for homeowners transitioning out of their homes into more affordable homes
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has provided useful information related to COVID-19, including a Guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options and a useful video that explains your rights to a COVID-19 Forbearance Plan under the federal CARES Act.
- To assist our customers and communities grappling with the impact of COVID-19, Freedom Mortgage has suspended foreclosures of occupied residential property and all evictions in accordance with applicable law.
- We are monitoring the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) daily in order to quickly adapt our processes so that we are working as safely and effectively as possible.
- We have enabled our teams to work from home and remain focused on supporting our customers while protecting their well-being.
- Follow the CDC advice on protecting your family and home. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/protect-home.html
- Updated communications will appear on freedommortgage.com, as additional information becomes available. COVID-19 related FAQs will also be updated as additional information because available and can be found here.