U.S. MORTGAGE Frequently Asked Real Estate Questions

Learn some of the basics about mortgages.

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Temporary Mortgage Relief Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, underthe CARES Act, the owners of single-family homes with federally-backed mortgages can get mortgage help or forbearance. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reverse mortgages are eligible too.

If you're having trouble making payments because of the coronavirus pandemic, your loan servicer must:

  • Defer or reduce your payments for six months if you contact your loan servicer to make arrangements
  • Give you another six months of mortgage relief at your request
  • Offer options for how you can make up the deferred or reduced payments. They will discuss these options with you at the end of your forbearance period.

Make sure you know your rights before you contact your loan servicer. Read thisconsumer relief guide to mortgage payment forbearance and foreclosure protection under the Federal CARES Act(PDF,Download Adobe Reader).

If you don't know whether your mortgage is federally-backed,see a list of federal agencies that provide or insure mortgages. You can also check theFannie Mae loan lookupand theFreddie Mac loan lookupto see if either one owns or backs your mortgage. Together, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own nearly half of all mortgages in the U.S.

Mortgage Refinancing

Refinancing your mortgage allows you to pay off your existing mortgage and take out a new mortgage on new terms. You may want to refinance your mortgage to take advantage of lower interest rates, to change your type of mortgage, or for other reasons.

These resources will help you learn more about refinancing your mortgage:

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  • Making Home Affordable Program

  • Mortgage Company Transferring Your Loan to Another Company

Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a home loan that you do not have to pay back for as long as you live in your home. You only repay the loan when you die, sell your home, or permanently move away. Homeowners who are at least 62 years old are eligible. These mortgages allow older homeowners to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash without having to sell their homes or take on additional monthly bills.

Read moreinformation about reverse mortgages.

Types of Reverse Mortgages

Types of reverse mortgages include:

Be sure to watch for aggressive lending practices, advertisements that refer to the loan as "free money," or those that fail to disclose fees or terms of the loan. To be a savvy consumer and help protect yourself, remember:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment
  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor
  • Never sign anything you do not fully understand
  • Make sure the loan is federally insured

Reporting Fraud or Abuse

If you suspect fraud or abuse, let the counselor, lender, or loan servicer know. You may also file a complaint:

If you have questions, contactyour local Homeownership Centerfor advice.

FHA Loans and HUD Homes

If you’re a homebuyer, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has two programs that may help make the process more affordable.

FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) manages the FHA loans program. This may be a good mortgage choice if you’re a first-time buyer because the requirements are not as strict as other loans.

Am I eligible?

Determine your down payment, closing costs and credit score before applying:

  • Cash down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.
  • Your credit scoredoesn't need to be high.
  • Closing costs may be partly covered or lower than other loans.

Make sure the price of the home is within the loan limit for an FHA home in its location.

How Do I Apply?

The FHA doesn't lend money to people. It insures mortgage loans from FHA-approved lenders against default. To apply for an FHA-insured loan, you will need to use an FHA-approved lender.

How do I complain?

If you have a complaint about an FHA loan program, contact the FHA Resource Center.

HUD Homes

When homeowners default on their FHA loan, HUD takes ownership of the property, because HUD oversees the FHA loan program. These properties are called either HUD homes or HUD real estate owned (REO) property.

Am I eligible?

Your qualifications to buy a HUD home depend on your credit score, ability to get a mortgage, and the amount of your cash down payment. You can also use an FHA-insured mortgage to buy a HUD home.

How do I apply?

Use the HUDHomestoreto find listings of HUD real estate owned (REO) properties for sale. Click on the agent tab to find contact information to learn more about the property.

Where do I call for extra help?

If you have a question or need more information about FHA loans or HUD homes, you can: