May 11, 2020 / 8:06 PM / 2 months ago

Almost 4 million U.S. mortgage borrowers in forbearance plans: industry survey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Almost four million mortgage borrowers have had their payments paused or reduced as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to strain household balance sheets, a survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed on Monday.

The share of mortgage loans in forbearance rose to 7.91% from 7.54% from April 27 to May 3, the industry lobbying group said. The number of new requests for relief fell relative to the prior week for the fourth consecutive survey period, MBA said.

Ginnie Mae loans once again had the highest percentage of loans in forbearance by investor type, at 10.96% of loans.

At least 33 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits since March 21, equivalent to roughly one out of every five workers losing their job in just over a month, and there have been numerous delays in disbursing the money.

More than 95% of Americans had been under “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders to curb the spread of the virus, causing widespread business shutdowns, although many U.S. states have now at least partially lifted shutdowns in a bid to reopen their economies.

“Although the pace of forbearance requests slowed this week, call volume picked up – which could be a sign that more borrowers are calling in to check their options now that May due dates have arrived,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist.

The United States has the world’s highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

The survey included data on 38.3 million loans, almost 77% of the first-mortgage servicing market.

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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