California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a “major financial relief package” that gives homeowners in the Golden State a three-month mortgage reprieve.
Those who have been (or will be) economically impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) are eligible to receive a 90-day grace period on their mortgage payments.
This is similar to what some individual mortgage lenders have already offered, and much like the universal mortgage relief program that has been proposed.
“Millions of California families will be able to take a sigh of relief,” said Newsom in the press release.
“These new financial protections will provide relief to California families and serve as a model for the rest of the nation. I thank each of the financial institutions that will provide this relief to millions of Californians who have been hurt financially from COVID-19.”
How the California Coronavirus Mortgage Relief Will Work
- Mortgage payments are waived for 90 days with additional relief beyond that also a possibility
- No negative information reported to the credit bureaus (will not impact your credit scores)
- Lenders will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions for at least 60 days
- Any mortgage-related fees will either be waived or refunded for at least 90 days
- These measures go into effect as of March 25th, 2020
Participating financial institutions will provide homeowners with a streamlined process to request mortgage payment forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons.
As noted, affected homeowners may receive a 90-day grace period to make their mortgage payments.
These banks will also provide borrowers with the opportunity to request additional relief beyond those 90 days, assuming there is continued hardship due to COVID-19.
In terms of how to get mortgage relief, we’re (since I’m from CA) being told we should contact and work directly with our mortgage loan servicer “to learn about and apply for available relief.”
The press release and relief website was light on details, so it’s not clear what that process will be like, and what sort of documentation you’ll need to provide, such as proof of hardship.
Do you need to be behind on the mortgage to apply, or can you have the payments waived while still current on your mortgage? I would assume the latter, but it still sounds complicated.
It’s also unclear how the forbearance will work – do the missed payments accrue interest, are they due once you become current, paid back via a repayment plan, or is the loan simply put on hold for three months?
All it says is the “relief will be supported by available documentation,” and the banks will “confirm approval of and terms of forbearance program.”
So hopefully there’s additional information coming once it all gets ironed out.
In the meantime, it’s basically a website that tells you to contact your servicer and hope they help you, while noting that “servicers are experiencing high volumes of inquiries.”
Which Banks Are Taking Part in the Mortgage Relief Program?
- U.S. Bank
- Wells Fargo
- 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and loan servicers
At the moment, Newsom said he “secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers.”
Other than the big-name banks, we don’t really know who’s taking part and who isn’t.
The press release did note that some home loans held by a financial institution may be serviced by another company, so be sure to inquire directly with the company you make mortgage payments to.
This can be further complicated by the fact that some out-of-state banks service lots of home loans in California.
Noticeably absent from the list is Bank of America, which earlier this week pledged to defer mortgage payments for an unknown period of time.
It’s unclear if they’ll be taking part in Newsom’s relief program, or if they’ll stick to their own program.
Either way, the coronavirus mortgage relief programs are beginning to get redundant and confusing. Not good for homeowners in my opinion.
The one potentially decent nugget on the website explains how you can file a complaint with the Department of Business Oversight if your mortgage servicer isn’t being cooperative or getting back to you.
There is a complaint form on the DBO website, or you can call the DBO Consumer Services Office at (866) 275-2677 or (916) 327-7585, or contact via email: Ask.DBO@dbo.ca.gov.