HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With 10 percent of the American workforce out of a job, financial struggles are part of the crisis. But there's help out there, and that includes assistance with your mortgage payments.
Last week, Ken Snow was one of many in the Houston area that was furloughed.
"I'm in food service as a salesman," Snow told us.
It's a situation many are familiar with these days. His wife, Monique immediately jumped on the phone to call unemployment.
With no money coming in, paying bills is about to become more challenging.
"One of the biggest things, you don't want to lose your home," Monique told ABC13.
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While that thought is on the minds of many, it's important to understand that lenders are offering assistance.
Mortgage originator Al Saylor with Certainty Home Loans says the last area that you want to slow pay or not pay is in your mortgage.
Saylor says communication with your lender is paramount. If you're beginning to experience financial difficulties, now is the time to talk with your mortgage company and figure out the best approach.
"They're going try to work with you to make sure you can maintain your property and maintain your obligations," Saylor said.
One of the options lenders are exploring with customers is forbearance. Think of it as a pause button for mortgage payments.
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While this does not excuse financial obligations from the loan, it's a way to give homeowners more time without fees, or possibly affecting credit scores. Also, you may want to ask about loan modifications.
"A modification may be something as simple as dropping your rate. It may be a modification from a 15 year to a 30 year (note)," Sailor explained.
The Snows say they reached out to their mortgage company and got some relief after just one phone call.
"What Chase is doing, we're doing a forbearance for three months to June 30th," Monique said.
ABC13 reached out to a few well-known lenders in Houston and asked how's they're assisting customers during these unprecedented times. We have compiled that list below:
BANK OF AMERICA
Bank of America is offering extensive assistance to its clients, detailed in the news release here:
- BOA is allowing mortgage, auto loan and credit card clients to request deferral of payments online at www.bankofamerica.com/coronavirus or by contacting BOA over the phone.
- BOA is offering a number of options for small business owners, including deferral of loan payments at www.bankofamerica.com/SBResources
On mortgages, Bank of America is offering deferred payments for up to 90 days or until the crisis is over, with payments added to the end of the loan term.
Comerica is enacting hardship relief assistance for customers experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19, including the consideration of fee and penalty waivers, loan deferrals or other scenarios that may help our customers.
If you are facing hardship related to COVID-19, you are encouraged to reach out to Comerica at 888-444-9876 to discuss your banking needs. They're available Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
Help is available for homeowners who have been impacted. Chase customer service specialists have already helped thousands of customers across the country by deferring payments for the next 90 days. Chase will continue working with their customers who need assistance, as the situation continues to develop. In addition to mortgage payment relief, foreclosures and evictions have also been suspended for 60 days. To learn more and start the process for a forbearance, customers should visit www.chase.com/mortgageassistance.
If you're in the military and have been activated to respond to a disaster, you may be eligible for additional benefits. Please call the military services hotline at 1-877-469-0110.
Wells Fargo is encouraging customers to continue making their payments if they can but are granting an immediate three-month payment suspension for any Wells Fargo Home Lending mortgage or home equity customer who requests assistance. For customers who contact Wells Fargo to take advantage of a payment suspension, Wells Fargo won't report past-due status to the consumer reporting agencies or charge late fees during the suspension period.
At the end of the initial three month payment suspension, Wells Fargo has a number of potential options available for mortgage and home equity customers. Depending on the loan investor and other factors, those options could include a continuation of the payment suspension, moving the missed payments to end of the loan or a modification to address longer-term financial changes that may impact their ability to keep up with their monthly payments. Wells Fargo will need to talk with them directly to understand their circumstances and identify the best way to help them going forward.
Wells Fargo also has temporarily stopped all foreclosure-related activity and evictions on occupied properties for mortgage and home equity customers; except where court ordered.
Should BBVA customers experience unfortunate hardship as a result of COVID-19, they are there to help. BBVA USA is assisting mortgage and home equity customers that have a COVID-19-related financial hardship with payment extensions and long term modification options. Their page dedicated to COVID-19 details the payment extension options and provides a link to submit a request online. That page is www.bbvausa.com/special/covid19.html.
Moreover, existing home equity line of credit (HELOC) customers that are going through financial hardship due to COVID-19 may receive a discounted interest rate for three months from the transaction date on new advances. New HELOC customers can also take advantage of historically low interest rates - subject to rules and conditions detailed on BBVA USA website - and apply directly through BBVA USA website.
Customers can also take advantage of the low mortgage interest rates, especially to refinance their existing mortgage loans. More details and contact information are on BBVA USA Mortgage page.
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How to get mortgage relief if you recently lost your job