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When mortgage borrowers are unable to meet their repayment terms, lenders may opt to foreclose. To avoid foreclosure, the lender and the borrower can make an agreement called "forbearance". According to this agreement, the lender delays their right to exercise foreclosure if the borrower can catch up to their payment schedule in a certain time. This period and the payment plan depend on the details of the agreement that are accepted by both parties.
Historically, forbearance has been granted for customers in temporary or short-term financial difficulty. If the borrower has more serious problems, i.e. where the return to full mortgage payments in the long term does not appear sustainable, then forbearance is usually not a solution. It needs to be noted that each lender is likely to have their own suite of forbearance products.
Examples of the types of forbearance which lenders may potentially consider are:
- A full moratorium on payments
- A reduced repayment (above Interest Only - this is termed Positive-Amortising)
- A reduced repayment (below Interest Only - this is termed Negative-Amortising)
- Interest Only
- A reduced loan rate %
- Split Mortgage
It needs to be understood that the type of forbearance being granted is being provided based on the customer's individual circumstances. i.e. customers in short term financial difficulty would be more likely to be approved of either a (short term) full moratorium or negative-amortising deal compared to customers in long term financial difficulty where the lender would at all times seek to ensure that the capital balance continues to be reduced (via an amortising forbearance arrangement). Negative amortising forbearance arrangements are only suitable as short term deals because the loan balance will continue to increase as full interest is not being paid.
When a lender offers a forbearance, they are refraining from enforcing their right to realize on securities under their agreement or contract with the Borrower. This is done to assist the Borrower in returning to a performing financial position as well as better position the Lender to realize its security should the Borrower fail to perform. The borrower is still responsible for their debt obligations, though they will accept the agreed forbearance amount and/or terms. On expiry of the agreed forbearance period the loan account reverts to its original form. In many instances, on expiry of the forbearance period, the difference between the level of forbearance granted and the full repayment (which was missed) is recalculated over the remaining term and the customers new repayment is based on the current loan balance, rate and term.
Some exceptions to this is where a reduced rate was given (where the possible intention here to reduce the capital balance as quickly as possible, thereby reducing the loan to value) or where the type of forbearance is for the lifetime of the loan, i.e. a split loan where 1 part of the loan is parked until the expiry date, with the intention that at that time a suitable repayment vehicle (say, sale of asset) is in place for the repayment of the loan in full.
Forbearance in other countries
The term ‘forbearance’ is addressed by different names in different countries. The norms of a foreclosure agreement also vary. For example in Australia, banks offer ‘hardship variation’ to borrowers struggling financially. Borrowers can ask their lenders to make changes to the terms of their loans.
Borrowers can either opt for a short-term relief by having their mortgage payment suspended for a short period of time (known as forbearance in the U.S.), or they can apply for reduced payments over the life of the loan’s term (known as loan modification in the U.S.). Lenders are required to give a particular reason as to why an application for hardship variation was being turned down by them. Borrowers are encouraged to talk to their internal complaints section of their respective bank or file a dispute.
In Spain, banks mostly allow temporary interest-only payments, rather than suspending the full amount of installment altogether. The Bank of Spain (Banco de España) – the county’s de facto bank – discourages banks from keeping mortgages in arrears. For that reason, banks are not required to offer any relief to borrowers. Banks can repossess properties without agreeing to changes in terms of the loan that might help a customer.
|Look up forbearance in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "Forbearance in Spain". foreclosuredeals.com. Retrieved 5 June 2017.