While the Gulf Coast escaped the threat of two simultaneous hurricane hits, the remaining storm, Hurricane Laura, looks like an historically dangerous one. It, and the wildfires ravaging California, has prompted Freddie Mac to restate its disaster relief policies.

Homeowners can request forbearance of their mortgage payments if they are affected by a presidentially- declared Major Disaster and live in an area where individual assistance programs are available. Those areas will be posted on the FEMA website.

Forbearance is available for up to 12 months. Homeowners affected by the disasters who are already in a COVID-19 related forbearance plan and any who are newly in need of assistance should contact their servicers as soon as possible.  

In addition, foreclosures are suspended for up to 12 months and servicers are instructed to waive penalties or late fees where homeowners are impacted by an eligible disaster.

"The immediate priority is for residents to get safely out of harm's way," said Bill Maguire, Freddie Mac's Vice President of Single-Family Servicing Management. "Once out of harm's way, we strongly encourage homeowners whose homes or places of employment are impacted to call their mortgage servicer-the company they send their monthly mortgage payments to- so they can learn about available relief options. Working with our servicers, we stand ready to ensure mortgage relief is made available to homeowners affected by these natural disasters."

We expect that Fannie Mae will announce a similar disaster assistance policy soon.