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What to do if you can't pay your mortgage due to the coronavirus pandemic

There are a few different options available to borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

BOISE, Idaho — The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to impact Idahoans' everyday lives. It has caused many to lose work and file for unemployment, affecting their ability to pay rent or their mortgage.

Chuck Kracht, director of loan servicing for the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, says there are a couple of options for those with a mortgage to keep in mind. One is a forbearance plan.

“Think of it as hitting the pause button on your loan," Kracht explained. "What it's not is loan forgiveness."

Forbearance will help provide short term relief to the borrower. Payments on a house can be paused for six months or longer. One thing to keep in mind though - at some point those payments will need to be made up.

“There are a couple different options that you can use to get back on track with your payment,” Kracht said. “You can add that amount back to your repayment plan to your normally scheduled monthly payment, you can pay it all back in a lump sum, or depending on what kind of loan it is, you might be eligible for some sort of loan modification.”

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However, there is a positive to doing a forbearance plan.

“Under the CARES Act, whenever someone is on an active forbearance plan there will not be any negative credit reporting and no late fee assessments,” Kracht said.

Another option is deferring the mortgage payments. This pushes back the payments to the end of the loan, effectively extending the time period someone is borrowing the money.

“The borrowers take the option that is going to have the least amount of negative affect on them and the one that will allow them to get the loan brought back to current as soon as possible,” said Ryan Froehlich, president of the Idaho Mortgage and Lenders Association.

Neither of these options forgive the loan, they both just give the borrower time to come up with the money to pay it off.

“Those payments are going to have to be paid at some point,” Froehlich said.

Another recommendation is that borrowers should pay what they can if they can’t do a full payment on the mortgage. However, Froehlich said if someone decides to do that, they should contact their lender to set up a plan.

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