The financial condition for many Americans will soon be laid bare when the first of the month comes and the mortgage payment is due. It had been hard enough to budget and pay expenses in the good times, but now that unemployment is growing exponentially things are going to get more difficult.
The good news is that in the United States the government is trying to help the average homeowner and encouraging the banks to do so as well. This is good because we cannot have a repeat of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 when millions of mortgages collapsed and couldn’t be paid.
What help is being offered and how can it help you? Well, that is your homework. You need to sit down with your spouse or significant other and take a look at your biggest expenses and when payments are due.
Here are my suggestions:
- Find out the name of the lender who services your mortgage. This could be a bank, finance company, or other entity. You should be able to find the name on your monthly mortgage statement or home loan.
- Go to the website of that company as soon as possible. This will help you see what home loan forbearance or postponement options are available if you need them, and the steps to begin the process.
- Call the phone number. If the instructions say to call a specific phone number, make sure that you do that. I would probably call anyway just to be on the safe side.
- Write down what you are told. If your home loan representative gives you information over the phone, make sure you repeat back what was said so you can verbally confirm what was discussed. Make sure to keep a note of who you talked to and when you talked.
- Follow the instructions. If your home loan provider said that you need to do certain things before a particular date, make sure you do that and don’t forget about it.
- Keep the paperwork. Yes, keep copies of your correspondence and letters to and from your bank or loan provider. You may need these later on.
- Urgency. If you absolutely cannot make your next payment, or it would be too much of a burden, make sure you contact your bank immediately. Time is of the essence. A phone call is easy to make and once you’re on the phone make sure you write down all of the details of your phone call.
- Renters get help too. If you pay rent instead of a mortgage, make sure to read the news about how you can get relief from being evicted, or assistance so that you might be able to postpone one or more rent payments.
- Help on fees. Are you being hurt by fees related to your balance being too low or there are overdraft fees that are too much? Make sure you call your bank or credit card provider right away and explain your situation. You might be able to get those fees waived or cancelled.
- Other services. Banks and financial companies really want to help and they may have other programs or services to help those who are being negatively impacted by the coronavirus situation.
Remember to keep trying to communicate with your bank, credit card company, or lender. Keep making an effort and document your communication with each company, and also save any email, written correspondence, or records of telephone calls.
Banks and financial companies are likely to be trying hard to do what is required or requested of them, but don’t take anything for granted. Make calls and visit their websites and get started on this right away. Nobody else is going to do this work for you and the longer the delay, the worse the outcome.