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Wounded troops, survivors may be eligible for mortgage help

Oct. 7, 2010 - 11:35AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 7, 2010 - 11:35AM  |  
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Surviving spouses and wounded warriors who are struggling with mortgage payments may get relief under one of several new initiatives announced by Fannie Mae.

When the death or injury of a service member on active duty causes a hardship in paying the mortgage, the service member or surviving spouse may be eligible for a special forbearance, under which the mortgage company may reduce or suspend the borrower's monthly payments for up to six months. Credit bureau reporting would also be suspended during this time.

Fannie Mae does not lend directly to home buyers, but makes funds available to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they can lend to home buyers.

The new forbearance program applies only to mortgages backed by Fannie Mae, although other lenders may have their own programs.

Wounded troops or surviving spouses who are having difficulty should contact their mortgage company directly. The mortgage company may grant the special forbearance under Fannie Mae's "unique hardships" guidelines, with Fannie Mae's approval.

"No family impacted by a death or injury in the line of duty should have to face the additional burden of foreclosure as a result of the hardship," said Jeff Hayward, senior vice president of Fannie Mae's National Servicing Organization, in a statement announcing the initiative.

If service members or spouses have difficulty getting a forbearance, they should call the toll-free hotline Fannie Mae has set up at 877-645-4566. Fannie Mae will follow up with the mortgage company to make sure the situation is resolved, spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus said.

Fannie Mae is also sending printed brochures to military installations with information about options for service members having trouble making their mortgage payments.

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