The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE:BKI) released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, based upon the company’s mortgage, real estate and public records datasets. As the final, 12-month expiration point for many forbearance plans quickly approaches, this month’s report looks at how the slowdown in improvement in recent months may present new challenges to recovery for seriously delinquent homeowners. According to Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske, the end of March 2021 is shaping up to be an inflection point for the industry.
“For the roughly 6.7 million Americans who have been in COVID-19 related mortgage forbearance at some point since the onset of the pandemic, the programs have represented an essential lifeline,” said Graboske. “The vast majority of plans have a 12-month cap on payment forbearance, though. And the various moratoriums which have kept foreclosure actions at bay over the past 10 months may be lulling us into a false sense of security about the scope of the post-forbearance problem we will need to confront come the end of March. Last year saw the largest number of homeowners – nearly 3.6 million – become 90 or more days past due since 2009, and as of the end of December, 2.1 million remained so.
“When nearly a quarter of all forbearance plans come to an end on March 31, at the current rate of improvement there would still be approximately 1.5 million more such serious delinquencies than before the pandemic. With that rate of improvement slowing in recent weeks, current trends suggest more than 2.5 million homeowners would still in forbearance at that point. While early in the pandemic roughly half of homeowners in forbearance continued to make their monthly mortgage payments, that number has steadily declined. Today, it’s about 12%, which suggests the people who are taking the full forbearance period afforded to them may well be experiencing prolonged financial distress, and face extended challenges as they return to making payments.”
Barring further action by the federal government, more than 600,000 seriously delinquent borrowers will reach the end of their allotted forbearance periods at the end of March. This clearly shows the industry-wide need for post-forbearance waterfalls to determine borrower need and readiness while foreclosure moratoriums are still in place. By efficiently addressing lower-risk borrowers as they exit forbearance, focus can then shift to those more in need. Robust portfolio monitoring, borrower outreach, loss mitigation and regulatory compliance will only become more important as the year progresses and the industry comes to terms with the size and scope of the post-forbearance problem.