Mortgage foreclosure

In Minnesota, an estimated 15% of mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and might be eligible for a program to help avoid foreclosure. (Adobe Stock)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Since the pandemic began, many state and federal policies have been enacted to prevent renters from being evicted.

But there’s also an initiative for struggling homeowners with certain types of mortgages to avoid foreclosure.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced the federal government has extended the period for homeowners with a Federal Housing Association-backed (FHA) loan to qualify for deferring or reducing their monthly payments for up to six months. The approval period now runs through Feb. 28.

Max Zappia, the state’s deputy commissioner of financial institutions, said anyone considering applying needs to keep that deadline in mind.

“And there’s an important distinction there between your application being submitted and approval,” Zappia cautioned. “So frankly, any borrower who is experiencing financial difficulties paying their mortgage related to COVID should contact their mortgage servicer as soon as possible, to review their options with them.”

He said the sooner you act, the better your chances of being approved before the end of February. If a homeowner can delay their payments for six months, there’s a possibility of a second six-month extension.

The department said in Minnesota, about 13,000 homeowners have FHA-backed mortgages that are delinquent.

Zappia clarified another important factor is once the grace period is over, the homeowner has to work out a plan to get caught up on their loan.

“Eventually, they will have to make those payments up after forbearance is over,” Zappia explained. “They shouldn’t expect to have to pay a lump sum, but they will have to make the payments up.”

Even if you’re behind on payments but don’t have a federally-insured loan, he added you should still make an attempt to work out a plan with the lender.

He noted any other potential option is better than letting the loan become severely delinquent. Questions also can be addressed through the Minnesota Homeownership Center.

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