The U.S. mortgage forbearance rate rose to nearly 7.7% of all active mortgages last week as Americans continued to seek relief from payments amid the coronavirus crisis.
According to data firm Black Knight, 225,000 more borrowers took advantage of government and bank mortgage forbearance programs, bringing the total of homeowners not making their monthly payments to nearly 4.1 million, as of May 7.
The rate of increase in forbearance requests slowed to 5.8% from 12.8% the previous week.
“After surging at the beginning of April and then rising again near the 15th — when most mortgages become past due and late fees are charged — the number of new forbearance requests has declined in recent weeks,” Ben Graboske, president of Black Knight, said.
“What remains an open question at this point is to what degree forbearance requests will look like at the beginning of May — when the next round of mortgage payments become due, and with nearly 30 million Americans newly unemployed in the last month,” he added.
Under the government mortgage bailout that is part of the CARES Act, borrowers can initially miss payments for up to 90 days and can then apply for extensions of up to a year.
The total number of forbearances represents $890 billion in unpaid principal and includes 6.4% of all loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and 11% of all FHA/VA loans.
The Mortgage Bankers Association has also said it expects the share of loans in forbearance will continue to grow, particularly as new mortgage payments come due this month.