Home ownership in Washington state has become increasingly difficult for many people because of the on-going pandemic. Despite the renewed Proclamations of Governor Jay Inslee to help ease some of the financial burden felt by Washington residents, many Washington homeowners behind on their mortgage need help. Mortgage relief programs put in place during COVID-19 are an option that could provide help with mortgage payments. In this article, you will learn more about both federal and state mortgage relief programs as well as other options for those behind on their mortgage in need of help. It is important to note that each mortgage relief program and other option that may help if you are behind on your mortgage and need help will have their own qualification that must be met.

Federal Mortgage Relief Programs During COVID-19

If your home loan is backed by a federal or government entity such as the FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible for help with mortgage payments through the CARES Act. CARES is an acronym that stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Safety. There are two important points under the CARES Act that homeowners with a federally backed mortgage should know:

  1. All mortgages that are federally or GSE backed may not be foreclosed upon by the lender until at least December 31, 2020. This is standard regardless of whether your mortgage is backed by the FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac.
  2. If you directly experience a financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, you have the right to request and receive a for an additional 180. However, the total length of time for the mortgage forbearance cannot exceed 360 days. You must contact your mortgage lender directly to request the forbearance. You cannot be charged additional fees, penalties, or interest outside of what is already part of your mortgage contract. There is also no requirement for you to submit additional documentation for this particular mortgage forbearance. If you are affected by COVID-19, it's important to apply for this forbearance immediately since the CARES Act mortgage relief program may expire on December 31, 2020 if it is not renewed.

To determine you qualify for CARES Act mortgage relief, you must first determine if your mortgage is federally backed. This may be a question you can answer. For example, you know you have a VA home loan. If you aren't sure, consumerfinance.gov, provides help with this important step. If your mortgage is federally or GSE backed, consumerfinance.gov also provides a list of phone numbers that can put you directly into contact with the proper federal agency and department to begin the process of requesting a mortgage forbearance.

Washington State Mortgage Help

The State of Washington also provides information about how homeowners in Washington state may be able to get mortgage help. It explains information about the CARES Act, and also provides information about what you can do if your mortgage is not federally or GSE backed. It includes two main tips for those behind on their mortgage and who need help:

  1. If you need help with your mortgage because you cannot pay it or because you can only pay part of it, you should contact your lender immediately during the hours that they have customer service agents available. Even businesses are impacted by the pandemic and may have fewer people who are able to work. It is imperative that you call during their business hours so that you are able to talk with a representative who may be able to help. This will improve the likelihood that you are able to request a mortgage forbearance through your lender.
  2. DFI is also offering Washington homeowners counseling and assistance. In fact, calling DFI before you call your lender may be beneficial. They may be able to provide you with tips on how to work with your lender to obtain mortgage forbearance. They can also educate you on your mortgage help options. DFI's toll-free number is 1-877-RING-DFI (1-877-746-4334). A housing counselor from Washington Homeownership Hotline may also be beneficial to speak with as well. The toll-free number for the Washington Homeownership Hotline is 1-877-894-HOME.

Filing Bankruptcy in Washington State

If your home goes into foreclosure, filing bankruptcy in Washington State is a helpful way to stop foreclosure. Once your bankruptcy petition and schedules are filed and you complete your credit counseling, the bankruptcy court issues the automatic stay. The purpose of the automatic stay is to provide you with the protection of the bankruptcy code from collections activity, including the foreclosure process.

While the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers understands that filing bankruptcy in Washington state isn't the right solution for everyone, it may be an option in certain scenarios. It could help you gain control over your finances as well as give you a fresh financial start. If you have questions about bankruptcy, the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers provides free consultations. Schedule yours now!