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Coronavirus Watch: Is a Mortgage Holiday Coming to America?


Written By: Jaymi Naciri
Saturday, April 04, 2020

Mortgage payments will be suspended across Italy as the Italian government places the population on lockdown because of the coronavirus outbreak, said Business Insider. The Italian government has placed Italys more than 60 million people under lockdown, extending emergency measures initially imposed only on northern regions as it struggled to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told everyone to "stay at home" and has banned public gatherings including sporting matches and weddings. In addition, most public spaces, save for grocery stores and pharmacies, are closed for the foreseeable future.nbsp;

Whats happening stateside?

Refinancing here is in the midst of a major boom. Applications to refinance a home loan jumped 79 last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, said CNBC. Applications for home purchase loans were up just 6 for the week.

Home buyers and sellers arent enti>

And, in fact, this might end up being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for savvy real estate buyers. Economists say that low mortgage rates could soften the impact on sales this spring. Although most people think of recessions with dread, it is worth keeping in mind that they can also be periodsnbsp;of opportunity, especially if you are prepared, George Ratiu, a senior economist at realtor.com, said in REALTOR Magazine. As the last recession demonstrated, while asset markets declined, many prepared buyers found treasures, often in low-priced homes.

But the big real estate->

The short answer is: probably not, said HousingWire. Most American mortgages are packaged into bonds with legal terms that dictate what the servicers who handle the billing can and cant do. There are ways servicers can offer forbearancean agreement to let borrowers either pay at a lower interest rate or suspend payments temporarily because of a hardship. But its on a case-by-case basis.

Somebody owns those bonds, Mark Vitner, a senior economist withnbsp;Wells Fargo, told them. Who is going to make those interest payments?nbsp;

That likely wont stop distressed homeowners from trying, especially if widespread quarantines become a reality in the U.S. Some of Americas largest mortgage lenders are urging their borrowers to get in touch as soon as possible if they making home loan payments becomes difficult because of the coronavirus health emergency, said Newsweek. While none of the institutions who were approached bynbsp;Newsweeknbsp;and responded had a specific policy >

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