If you are one of the millions of Americans whose finances were adversely affected by COVID-19 lockdowns, you’re probably interested in anything that could help you get back on track financially.

This is especially true if you are at risk of losing your home to foreclosure. As of November of 2020, 6% of all U.S. mortgages — 2.7 million homes — were in some stage of delinquency, so just know that you are not alone in this predicament!

Fortunately, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, also known as the CARES Act, passed in March of 2020, included relief for homeowners whose mortgages have become delinquent due to COVID-19 government lockdowns. For those who took advantage of this relief when the law was initially passed, the time to resume mortgage payments is fast approaching.

If you need immediate help, you can call the National Mortgage Relief Hotline at (888) 770-7312. Once you call, you’ll have access to a trusted housing expert who can go over options that could get your loan back on track or stop foreclosure.

No matter where you are in the process, here’s what you should know about the CARES Act, and what you can do now to avoid losing your home.

What type of mortgage relief is available in The CARES ACT?

On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law. The bill provided several fiscal measures that included provisions like additional unemployment benefits, rules for employers accommodating COVID-infected employees, low-interest business loans, mortgage forbearance on federally backed loans, along with eviction moratoriums.

The mortgage forbearance provision entitled mortgage borrowers to up to 15 months of forbearance. The loan forbearance allowed borrowers to temporarily reduce or stop mortgage payments if they experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 shutdowns.

If you were one of the many borrowers who took advantage of the mortgage forbearance early on in the pandemic, you might be wondering what’s next now that the 15-month forbearance period is ending. If you believe that you cannot catch up on your late payments, here are some ways you could get back on track with your loan.

Request a forbearance extension

Most lenders are already aware that many of their borrowers may not be able to bring their loans current at this time. Many people are still experiencing economic hardship and simply don’t have the savings or income to catch up on the payments they missed. Additionally, some people may not be ready to resume making full payments if they were making partial payments.

If you feel like you may not be able to either make full or partial payments on your mortgage once the forbearance expires, you should speak to your lender about extending the forbearance period. Some lenders are already extending flexible terms to borrowers by continuing to accept partial payments or deferring loan balances until the end of the loan with little to no interest charges.

The key is to speak to your lender before you begin missing payments or default on your loan. The earlier you begin communicating with them, the better chance you have at keeping your home.

Get a loan modification

A loan modification allows you to change the terms of your mortgage. Loan modifications have been around for a long time and the process to obtain one is very standard. In some cases, the lender will adjust your mortgage so that the terms make sense for your new income situation. You may get a lower monthly loan payment, but the loan term could be lengthened, causing you to pay more money, overall, for your home.

Despite some disadvantages, this solution works for some borrowers because it helps them stay in their homes and may keep their monthly payments low enough for their budget. There is no guarantee that your lender will grant your loan modification request. It doesn’t hurt, however, to at least ask about this option.

Refinance your mortgage

If you’d like to bring your loan current, refinancing your mortgage could be another workaround for you. Strangely enough, real estate values have increased during the pandemic in many parts of the country. If your income is stable, your credit score is good, and your property’s value is adequate, you may be able to refinance your mortgage into a new loan.

If you choose to refinance your home loan, it could help you get extra cash, pay off the late balance on your mortgage and potentially even decrease your monthly payment. Make sure you understand all of the consequences of refinancing your home. There are closing costs and fees related to this move, so do a full cost-benefit analysis before getting into a new home loan.

Other mortgage relief options

There may be other opportunities and options to bring your mortgage current. The best thing you can do is seek help sooner than later. The more proactive you are, the better chance you have at saving your home from foreclosure.

Some other options include:

Be sure to call the National Mortgage Relief Hotline at (888) 770-7312 to discuss the best option for you. There may be more solutions than you think to save your home, but the key is getting out in front of it. Troubles can seem less scary when you know your options and make a plan.

Aja McClanahan is a blogger, freelance writer, and book author who covers personal finance and small business topics. She resides in Chicago with her two children and husband.

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