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Illinois debt collection attorney foreclosure

While the mortgage, rent, and income protections provided for in last spring’s original Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act have long since been exhausted, many states, including Illinois, have continued to offer their own executive orders and legislation to assist residents during this unprecedented time. In addition, many mortgage companies have developed their own programs for homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure, at least for the time being. However, that is not to say if you are looking to eventually collect on the debts owed from these properties that might be in preforeclosure, you should not be prepared to take action. Foreclosure debt collection will be inevitable post-pandemic, despite the latest COVID relief package being signed into law. In that sense, you, as a mortgage lender or servicer who deals with foreclosures, must remain focused on your job, collecting and documenting everything necessary to make the preforeclosure and foreclosure processes go smoothly whenever the time comes.

Advice to Mortgage Lenders When Prepping for Foreclosure During the Pandemic 

With the vaccines only starting to be administered and with the latest COVID-19 economic relief bill signed into law nine months after the CARES Act, you cannot expect things to get back to normal immediately. Therefore, the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy, including housing, will persist far into 2021. Due to this, you need to be prepared for continual increases in foreclosures, including from residents of normally good standing with your mortgage lending or servicing company. To better prepare for an influx of foreclosures in the new year, consider the following tips:

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Chicago debt collection attorney

It is common during the holidays, especially during Black Friday, for consumers to purchase more than they can actually afford; in fact, some of these shoppers are already struggling financially but believe the holiday gives them a great opportunity to max out their credit cards and take out loans for exorbitant holiday gift-giving before they eventually file for bankruptcy. There are ways to contest such holiday bankruptcy fraud, but this year might not be the same due to the pandemic. 

How COVID-19 Will Change Black Friday 

Numerous retailers are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic due in large part to early stay-at-home orders for all non-essential workers and businesses as well as the economic recession itself. Fortunately, those companies with strong e-commerce skills have been able to offer their products online. The pandemic will change Black Friday in this way—it will further accelerate the trend of people avoiding the in-store rush and simply shopping online instead. 

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Chicago Mortgage Loan Servicer AttorneysWith many reports claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic could continue well into 2021—and some reports even suggesting that it could last into 2022—the economic impact is likely to remain substantial and adverse. Illinois alone approximately has more than a 20 percent unemployment rate since the start of the pandemic. All this job loss and financial strife means more foreclosures, mortgage loan modifications, workouts, and other adjustments to mortgages are bound to occur, at least eventually. With echoes of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law this past March still being felt today, mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers might be considering their responsibilities at this time in offering new—or extending prior—COVID-19 forbearance plans for their borrowers. Here is an overview for your reference. 

Mortgage Lender Responsibilities Per the CARES Act, Then and Now

Provided the mortgage being serviced is federally backed, mortgage lenders and servicers are required by law at this time to offer the following forbearance policies to eligible homeowners:

  • The CARES Act enables forbearance of mortgage payments for up to six months in which interest accrues and the payments are only postponed.
  • The lenders have the right to extend the forbearance another six months for a total of one year of a forbearance in mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • During these forbearances, servicers cannot charge fees or interest beyond what would have been provided for with the homeowners’ usual monthly on-time mortgage payments.
  • An important new interpretation of the CARES Act from federal regulators confirms that servicers cannot require repayment of the missed mortgage payments in one lump sum at the end of the forbearance.
  • When the forbearance period ends, the lender will work with the homeowner to devise a loan modification, workout, or other plan that will allow them to pay back the missed payments over time.

Why Expanding COVID-19 Forbearance Policies Might Be a Good Idea

According to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, nearly 70% of all homeowners have federally-backed loans that qualify for these forbearance policies, which means you as a lender technically are not required by law to offer it to all your borrowers. However, despite this, you might want to consider the expansion of your COVID-19 forbearance policy to all homeowners and not just those with federally backed loans. Reasons to do this include:

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Chicago debt collection attorneysAccording to the August report from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the amount of unpaid credit card debt in the U.S. has been dropping since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Outstanding consumer credit card debt in July was reported as $994.7 billion, which is down from $996.8 billion in May and $1.078 trillion in Quarter 1 of 2020. Declining credit card debt is a predictable response to a downturn in the economy. In fact, both consumers and credit card companies have changed their behavior because of the pandemic

Consumers’ Approach to Debt Has Changed

Millions of Americans lost their jobs, were put on leave, or had their hours reduced in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. When consumers are uncertain about their job income, many will become more risk-averse about taking on credit that they may not be able to repay. The pandemic affected the activities of cardholders in several ways:

  • Many stores where consumers might use their cards were closed for weeks or months because of state mandates.
  • Consumers are staying at home more often, which means they spend less on travel and dining.
  • Most consumers received stimulus payments from the federal government, which some used to pay down their credit card balance.

How Credit Card Companies Have Adjusted

Credit card companies have also responded to the economic effects of the pandemic to protect themselves and help their clients. Many companies are working with existing customers who are facing an unexpected economic hardship that makes it harder for them to make monthly payments. Companies can provide relief by modifying the debt agreement to reduce monthly payments and interest rates or to waive late fees.

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