Weather experts now predict that the East Coast will be widely impacted with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, an event which will also change mortgage payment requirements in some cases. If tradition holds, lenders will have in place a series of protections for borrowers, including delayed payments, reduced bills and suspended credit reporting.
High waves, strong winds and massive rainfall are all expected — even large snow falls may occur away from the coast. Major power outages, Internet failures and road closures are also expected — events which can impact the ability to make a monthly mortgage payment. For weather details and specifics follow the latest briefings from the Philadelphia office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Lenders have had experience with earthquakes, floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes — think back to Katriba, Wilma, Rita, Gustav, Hugo, Irene and Andrew.
In terms of mortgages, the general policy with most lenders — but NOT all — is to offer forbearance when asked and as appropriate in hard hit areas:
- Suspend mortgage payments for several months.
- Reduce the payments for several months.
- Waive penalties and late fees against borrowers with disaster-damaged homes.
- Quickly releasing insurance money to help borrowers repair homes.
- Create longer loan modification plans in severe situations.
- Temporarily discontinue reporting delinquencies caused by the storm to credit reporting agencies.
- Suspend foreclosure actions and delay short sales and REO transactions.
Keep loan payment papers with you so you can contact mortgage servicers. Be certain your paperwork includes account numbers.
Lenders will NOT automatically offer relief. You must initiate contact with the lender and be able to show damages, a loss of income and/or major expenses.
For specifics, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. Make sure you record when you called, the name of the individual with whom you spoke and their number, what was discussed and what paperwork or photos you need to supply.
Hurricanes have the ability to move massive amounts of water in a very short time. The instant result can be flooding along low-lying areas and shores. However, hurricanes can also have a wider impact in terms of power outages, closed roads and the disruption of public services.
If you’re in a hurricane area please take public warnings seriously: Leave mandatory evacuation areas. If you are not in an evacuation area but will face exceptional levels of rain and high winds make sure you have food, batteries, and medicine; gas in the car; and supplies for children and pets. Be sure that cell phones, digital cameras and computers are fully charged.
Every member of the household should know where to meet, how to evacuate and how to remain in contact.
If you leave the property, FEMA says you should turn off the water, gas and electricity.
When refrigerators go off some food can be saved — and some quickly spoils. For specifics, see FoodSafety.gov.
For additional assistance contact state and local government emergency centers.