Bulletin: SLS2021004

Date:
March 01, 2021
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Extension of COVID-19 Federal Foreclosure Moratoriums and Forbearances [Revised 3-2-21]

Dear Associates:

This Bulletin provides an update regarding extensions of COVID-19 foreclosure moratoriums and forbearances relating to federally-related mortgage loans.

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

On February 9, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA") announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac extended their moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until March 31, 2021. The moratoriums were set to expire on February 28, 2021.

On February 25, 2021, FHFA announced extensions of several measures to align COVID-19 mortgage relief policies across the federal government.  FHFA extended their moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until June 30, 2021.

The foreclosure moratorium applies only to single-family mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties that have been acquired by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions.  

FHFA also announced that borrowers with a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible for an additional forbearance extension of up to three months. Eligibility for the extension is limited to borrowers who are on a COVID-19 forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021, and other limits may apply. Further, COVID-19 Payment Deferral for borrowers with an Enterprise-backed mortgage can now cover up to 15 months of missed payments. COVID-19 Payment Deferral allows those borrowers to repay their missed payments at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or at mortgage maturity.

Click here to read the full FHFA Statement dated 02/25/21. Click here to read the full FHFA Statement dated 02/09/21.

U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

On February 16, 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) announced extensions of the Federal Housing Administration’s (“FHA”) foreclosure and eviction moratoriums. The extension of the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums applies to all homeowners with an FHA-insured forward or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan, and homeowners with a Section 184 or Section 184A mortgage loan, except for properties that are legally vacant or abandoned, through June 30, 2021. The current moratoriums were set to expire in March 2021.

HUD prohibits servicers from initiating or proceeding with foreclosure and foreclosure-related eviction actions during the moratoriums. HUD also extended the deadlines for the first legal action and reasonable diligence timeframes for servicers to 180 days from the date of expiration of the foreclosure and eviction moratorium.

HUD also extended the timeframe for homeowners to request the start of a COVID-19 forbearance through June 30, 2021. The COVID-19 forbearance will allow up to two forbearance extensions of up to three months each for a homeowner who requested a COVID-19 Forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.

Click here to read the full HUD Statement.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

On February 16, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct Loans and USDA Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loans (“SFHGLP”) through June 30, 2021. The current moratoriums were set to expire in March 2021.

The moratorium does not apply in situations where the USDA or the servicing lender has documented that the property is vacant or abandoned.

The USDA also announced that lenders may offer forbearance of the borrower guaranteed loan payment for up to 180 days. In addition, the initial forbearance period may be extended up to an additional 180 days. Lenders may approve the initial 180-day COVID-19 forbearance no later than June 30, 2021. SFHGLP borrowers that received a COVID-19 forbearance prior to June 30, 2020, may be granted up to two additional three-month payment forbearances.  

Click here to read the full USDA Statement.

U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

On February 16, 2021, the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) announced that all properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans, including those previously secured by VA-guaranteed loans but currently in VA’s REO portfolio, are subject to a moratorium on foreclosure and eviction through June 30, 2021. The current moratorium was set to expire in March 2021.

Except with respect to a vacant or abandoned property, the moratorium applies to the initiation of foreclosures, the completion of foreclosures in process, and evictions.

Click here to read the full VA Statement.

The VA also announced that veterans with VA-guaranteed loans may be eligible for COVID-19 forbearance, regardless of the delinquency status of the VA-guaranteed loan. The initial request for COVID-19 forbearance may be granted for up to six months. The veteran may request additional COVID-19 forbearance for up to six months. Servicers may approve a veteran’s initial COVID-19 forbearance if the request is made on or before June 30, 2021. A COVID-19 forbearance period may extend through June 30, 2022.

For veterans who requested their initial COVID-19 forbearance on or before June 30, 2020, the veteran may request up to two additional three-month COVID-19 forbearance periods, after twelve months of COVID-19 forbearance. The veteran must request each three-month extension individually. Neither of the two additional three month COVID-19 forbearance periods may extend beyond December 31, 2021.

Click here to read the full VA Statement.

Company policy: Do not insure based on foreclosures begun or completed on or after March 1, 2020, until we notify you otherwise, unless you secure Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter approval.

Do not waive or assume a lien or procedural requirement has expired if it has not expired before March 1, 2020, until we notify you otherwise, unless you secure Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter approval.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

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