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The number of borrowers seeking relief on their mortgage payments has fallen for the third straight week, as more Americans go back to work and cities reopen.

As of June 16, 4.6 million homeowners were in forbearance plans, allowing them to delay their monthly payments for at least three months. This represents 8.7% of all active mortgages, down from 8.8% last week, according to a weekly survey by Black Knight, a mortgage data and technology firm. Together, those loans represent just more than $1 trillion in unpaid principal.  

The numbers are down by 57,000 from last week and by 158,000 from the peak week, May 22.

Broken down by loan type, about 6.8% of all mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and 12.1% of all FHA/VA loans are currently in forbearance plans. 

Loans not backed by government agencies, either held by banks or in private-label securities, seem to be more troubled. Those total forbearances rose by 6,000.

Nonagency loans are often held by borrowers who are self-employed. They may be struggling more financially from the economic shutdown.

While borrowers in forbearance can delay their monthly payments, mortgage servicers are still required to advance those payments to bondholders. At today’s level, they need to pay a collective $3.4 billion per month to holders of government-backed mortgage securities on Covid-19-related forbearances. That is in addition to $1.4 billion in taxes and insurance payments they also make on behalf of borrowers.

Federal regulators capped the amount of time servicers have to make those payments on government-backed loans at four months.

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