Forbearance falls beneath 1.6 million for the primary time for the reason that pandemic started

The total mortgage forbearance rate fell from 3.1% last week to 3% as the number of suspension payments fell below 1.6 million for the first time since the early days of the pandemic, Black Knight reported Friday.

At more than 1.59 million, the number of temporary payment suspensions is in a similar range as between March 31, 2020 (803,300) and April 7 of last year (2.13 million). At the current level, the outstanding moratorium could drop to a quarter of its high (4.76 million) by next month.

"With more than 462,000 plans to be considered for expansion / removal in September, the exit volume could soar in early October," Black Knight said in a blog post on Friday. "Up to 330,000 will expire their financial plans based on the currently permitted deferral periods."

Although the phase out is imminent for many and forbearance on a net basis is on the decline, new plan filings have increased since mid-August, Black Knight noted. A September 30 deadline for applications to the government market appears to be a major driver.

The emerging date also meant that mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs continued to have a relatively high forbearance rate for the past week. However, it reflected a drop from the rate in Black Knight's previous report as exits overtook new plans.

The breakdown of the forbearance rates by category in the last report was as follows: FHA / VA loans, 5.2%; existing or securitized private mortgages, 3.8%; and products from government sponsored companies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), 1.7%. While the forbearance rate decreased for FHA / VA products on a net basis, it increased slightly for private mortgages and was unchanged for GSE loans from a week earlier. In a previous Black Knight report, the comparative numbers were 5.4%, 3.7% and 1.7%, respectively.

FHA / VA loans made up 40% of all deferrals in the past week, followed by personal mortgages (31%) and GSE products (29%).

Last week's statistics from Black Knight's McDash Flash data reflected activity as of September 14th.

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