Coronavirus mortgage tips: What to do if you can’t reach your lender

Many Americans in tough financial situations are looking for mortgage assistance

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As the economic effects of measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus begin to permeate across the U.S., many people are taking measures to alleviate their financial burdens.

One of the biggest regular payments for households is mortgage payments. Experts have advised individuals to get into contact with their lenders if they find themselves in a situation where they do not think they will be able to meet their obligations.

There are often many options on the table if you reach out – and a lot of lenders are allowing borrowers to skip payments without being charged late fees or being considered delinquent.

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However, many Americans are finding themselves under the same financial pressures at the same time. The U.S. economy lost 700,000 jobs last month – and 10 million people filed for unemployment over the last two weeks, highlighting how deeply the coronavirus outbreak has begun to affect the U.S. economy and the average American.

That means, when you call your lender, you may have trouble getting through.

“Lenders' call centers are bonkers right now,” Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet, told FOX Business. “They're overwhelmed by calls, and some of them are short-staffed so employees can sit an appropriate distance from one another.”

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One thing you can try if this situation applies to you is to visit your lenders’ website instead of calling. On the mortgage account sign-in pages, there are often links to forms you can fill out, Lewis noted.

The lender may ask how you have been affected by the coronavirus situation.

And even where websites are concerned, traffic is likely higher than usual.

“Be patient with the websites,” Lewis advised. “Some of them are slow to load. You might have to wait until late night.”

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Mortgage loan application volume increased 15.3 percent in the week ending March 27 – driven by an uptick in refinance activity – according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. That’s because mortgage rates, which have been volatile, plunged. Refinancing can allow people to reduce their expenses.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home were 24 percent lower when compared with the same period last year.

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