What you need to know about mortgage forbearance ending

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — During the pandemic, many homeowners with federally held loans didn’t have to pay their mortgage for 18 months because of mortgage forbearance. For many, that time is up, and they’ll have to start paying again soon.

Some analysts estimate that this is the case for about 18,000 people across the country each day.

“Forbearance” is not the same as loan forgiveness, so a borrower still owes the money; they just didn’t have to pay it for a while. The forbearance law doesn’t apply to private loans, which are between the borrower and lender.

Claire Blackwell has had multiple organ transplants. She told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke that she’s had to be extra cautious during the pandemic. “I just got to still be careful, even anything small … can blow up so quick.”

Blackwell’s fiancé, Robert Maughmer, told Stoogenke that when the pandemic started, he was working in a busy environment where there was little social distancing. He was afraid he’d bring the virus home to Blackwell, so he quit his job.

They were grateful for mortgage forbearance. “I’m sure I would have lost [my home] by now if I hadn’t had that,” Maughmer said.

Maughmer said he has two home loans and that one is up, so he’s asking the lender to restructure it so he can afford it. “I’m in limbo. It’s a lot of stress,” he said.

For people who are now faced with paying their mortgage again, Stoogenke suggests working with your lender to figure out a way to pay the money back – maybe add a little every month or maybe tack it on at the end.

If a lender modifies a loan, they may charge a fee, but it shouldn’t cost as much as refinancing. However, a modification can ding your credit score, depending on how the lender reports it to the credit reporting agencies. The nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group suggests asking how it will be reported before you agree to any modification. “And it’d be nice to get that assurance in writing if you can,” the organization stated.

Stoogenke offers this advice:

- Keep an eye on the mail. You don’t want to miss an important letter from your lender.

- Watch out for scams.

- Keep a close eye on your credit. Most credit reporting agencies offer a free credit report each year, so get a report that covers the full year.

(WATCH: Action 9 warns job scams on the rise during pandemic)