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Busta’s Person of the Week: This amazing realtor isn’t selling homes, she’s helping you to save yours

Mary Gutierrez, owner and Realtor for The Real Estate Hotline

Busta’s Person of the Week: This amazing realtor isn’t selling homes, she’s helping you to save yours
May 20
15:40 2020

By Busta Brown

According to reports, thousands of citizens in the Triad alone are going to bed homeless. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those statistics are rising each week. Americans are losing their jobs daily and feeling the strain of financial hardship. 

I did a Q&A with local Realtor Mary Gutierrez. The first question I asked was how can we protect our homes during COVID-19. “COVID-19 has impacted all of us in some way or another and has left many people in a financial emergency. Today we’re going to talk about what relief is available for homeowners struggling or unable to meet their mortgage loan obligations. March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, went into effect to give homeowners with federally backed mortgages some relief,” Guiterrez explained.

“First, it halted foreclosures beginning March 18, 2020, for 60 days. GSE-backed and FHA-insured mortgages extended their date through June 30, 2020.  Secondly, if a homeowner is experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19, they have the right to request and obtain forbearance for up to 180 days, with an extension for an additional 180 days. You cannot be charged any additional fees, penalties or additional interest (beyond your already scheduled amounts) added to your loan. You also do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim of having a pandemic-related financial hardship. Most homeowners will qualify for assistance through the CARES Act, but for those that don’t have a federally backed mortgage, you may still have relief options through your mortgage loan servicer or from your state. Fortunately, when the CARES Act passed, several mortgage servicers implemented their own and similar programs to help homeowners through this pandemic.”

Mary is also the owner of The Real Estate Hotline in High Point, so she knows all about assisting people who are experiencing financial hardship. The under 40-year-old entrepreneur has helped hundreds of families’ and individual’s dreams come true, with not only owning a home, but their dream home as well. Mary has helped everyone from fast food workers to multi-millionaires acquire their homes. 

No matter your financial class, this pandemic has put a financial strain on most everyone. So I asked Mary, if we’re feeling that strain, what should we do first?  “Don’t wait! Don’t wait until you fall behind to get help; you have to act now, you have to act quickly. Some programs have a requirement that you cannot be more than one or two months behind to qualify for these programs. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to qualify for the help you need and can get. Nobody should lose their home and the money they’ve already put into it due to this unprecedented national emergency. Don’t wait.

“Find out who your mortgage servicer is and call them or go online. This is who you make your mortgage payments to each month. Most loan servicers have simplified the request process via online to a few basic questions that can be submitted in a matter of minutes. If you’re unsure of who your mortgage servicer is, look at your mortgage statement for contact and website information.”

She also shared what kind of assistance is available. “Each loan servicer has slightly different programs depending on who owns or backs your mortgage, the programs they offer, and the eligibility criteria they set.  

“After reviewing several of the major bank’s websites such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, and reviewing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA and USDA websites, I would like to share the following general information to help explain the forbearance programs available. Keep in mind that past due payments are not forgiven or erased through these assistance programs, so it is very important to understand how they work and what you can expect in terms of repayment. First of all, most forbearances will allow you to “pause” or pay a reduced amount of your monthly payments for a limited time period. This can be anywhere from around three months up to 12 months. After the forbearance period ends, the mortgage servicer will offer you the repayment plan(s) that you qualify for, which may include the following: Reinstatement refers to making a payment that covers the total past due amount in one lump sum.

“If you’re unable to reinstate, a repayment plan will allow you to pay a portion of your past due amount every month to catch up within 6-12 months. A loan deferment will extend the term of the mortgage by the exact number of months in forbearance. A loan modification can add your total past due amount to the existing loan amount and amend your mortgage terms to increase your monthly payments to cover the past due amount. Or give you more years to pay off the total loan and/or lower the interest rate and/or forgive part of the loan to lower your monthly payment. Again, each loan servicer will let you know which you qualify for, as each may have slightly different guidelines. It is recommended you request your agreement in writing for you to better understand the terms of repayment.”

I asked Mary if our credit will be affected by not making the payments. “During your forbearance agreement, missed payments will not be reported to the credit bureaus. And if your financial situation improves, you can cancel your forbearance. If you are able to make your payments, whether full or partial, please do so and notify your loan servicer. Remember, the fewer payments you miss will be less money you will owe later. Also, your mortgage servicer will likely require you to confirm if your financial hardship has improved approximately every three months.”  

My amazing Person of the Week is Realtor and business owner Mary Gutierrez. You can contact Mary at 336-577-9324. For additional information about protecting your home, visit your servicer’s website in regard to how they are working with homeowners and COVID-19. You may also contact a HUD-approved counselor at www.hud.gov/counseling or call 800-569-4287. You may also visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus.

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