Do This Right Now if You're Behind on Your Mortgage

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As hard as it is trying to buy a house during a pandemic, keeping up with payments might be even harder. A new report finds that mortgage delinquencies have risen to their highest level in nine years. If you're a homeowner, you likely want to know what you can do about late or missing payments, as COVID-19 makes staying on top of these debts even harder.

The report from the Mortgage Bankers Association also showed that the rate of nonpayment in the second quarter of 2020 — approximately the ramp-up of the lockdown and economic crisis — is the biggest increase yet. It's understandable; after all, COVID has left 1 in 3 Americans financially stranded. That doesn't mean you're doomed to bad credit and sleepless nights, though. The federal CARES Act, passed in March, included relief packages for homeowners. Not enough homeowners seem to know about that part, though, or what they can do to get that help.

If this applies to you, the first thing you can and should do is figure out if your mortgage is federally backed. That means any mortgages held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae should qualify for payment forbearance for up to six months. Call your lender as soon as you can and see what options you can wrangle. "These are unprecedented times," Navy Federal Credit Union vice president Janelle Allison told Forbes, "and some lenders will try and work with homeowners as the economy looks to rebound."

Even if your loans aren't federally backed, your mortgage holder may have a policy in place to help you through this tough spot. Everyone's going through trouble, after all — and if your lender gives you a hard time, you've still got recourse elsewhere.