BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — California and Kern County residents who were worried about their next mortgage payment can breath a little easier as of Wednesday March 25.
"Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Citi Bank and JP Morgan Chase have all agreed to a 90-day waiver of payments for those who have been impacted by COVID-19," Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
Under this agreement, Newsom said, besides Bank of America, four of the largest banks along with a sum of 200-plus credit unions across the state of California have committed to providing forbearance on foreclosures and on mortgage payments to California residents. Valley Strong Credit Union here in Kern County also said they are committed to honoring this same agreement, "For both consumer and home loans, we offer up to a three month deferment," Senior Vice President of Valley Strong Credit Union, Michael George said.
George said if you are facing financial hardship now and or you can see one in the near future because of COVID-19, you should reach out as early as possible.
However, if you are working with a bigger bank like Wells Fargo or the others, President of San Juaquin Valley Mortgage, Scott Berry provided some advice to help you right now, "For people listening to what Governor Newsom gave was if you have a loan with Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, JP Morgan you may want to check with the service provider, don't stop paying your mortgage payment, the first thing you need to do is call your servicer first and work that out with them directly first."
Wellsfargo shared the following statement with 23ABC News.
"We encourage customers to continue making their payments if they can but are granting an immediate 90-day payment suspension for any Wells Fargo Home Lending mortgage or home equity customer who requests assistance. For customers who contact us to take advantage of a payment suspension, we won’t report past-due status to the consumer reporting agencies or charge late charges during the suspension period. Wells Fargo has temporarily stopped all foreclosure-related activity and evictions for customers with loans we hold in our portfolio. For loans we service for FHA, VA and the GSEs, we will follow their guidance for temporary halts to foreclosures sales and evictions,"-- Well Fargo Spokesperson, Yahaira Garcia-Perea said.
According to Newsom, so far more than 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 13. The news comes after Congress reached a deal with the Trump administration on a stimulus package that will increase unemployment benefits by $600 per week on top of what the state provides.
Newsom said this additional support from banks only applies to people who have been impacted by COVID-19, not those who are just working from home and still receiving a paycheck.
Local mortgage brokers said it's important to keep making payments until you get the green light from your bank and if you are currently on time and have been in the past then you should take these steps.
"Reach out to your lender and your lender may modify the loan in terms of lowering your payments, or deferring the payments, or taking the payments and adding them to the back of the loan and giving you a grace period of 30 to 60 or 90 days, depending on which servicer you are dealing with," Berry said.
Newsom did not spell out how banks will require you to make the other payments that are associated with your mortgage, but again the best piece of advice is to contact your bank as soon as possible about your mortgage payment options.