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Forbearance for the jobless

By Polyana da Costa · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Posted: 12 pm ET

Homeowners who are unemployed and struggling to pay their mortgages may get a break on their mortgage payments for up to a year, says mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac.

Freddie currently allows mortgage servicers to give borrowers three to six months to get back on their feet when they are out of work. Starting Feb. 1, servicers can give borrowers a break of up to six months without written approval from Freddie, and up to a year with Freddie's approval.

In order to qualify, the loan must be owned by Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae says it plans to implement similar changes but has not made an announcement yet.

To find out if your loan is owned by one of the entities, you can visit Freddie Mac's Loan Lookup page on its website.

Borrowers who already are on short-term forbearance may be granted an extension after Feb. 1.

"These expanded forbearance periods will provide families facing prolonged periods of unemployment with a greater measure of security by giving them more time to find new employment and resolve their delinquencies," says Tracy Mooney, a senior vice president at Freddie Mac. "We believe this will put more families back on track to successful long-term homeownership."

Borrowers with loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA mortgages, also are eligible for forbearance of up to a year. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the extended forbearance period last year.

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