There is a lot to unpack from recent Federal relief bills, agency extensions, and rent relief assistance. The below does not cover every housing program that is changing or has additional funding – just those that directly impact many individual families in Maine. We’ll keep you posted as things change – especially if the new “Biden” COVID-19 relief bill is passed in March/April 2021. If you need help, contact Pine Tree Legal, Penquis Housing Counseling (or email@example.com), or any of these Maine-based HUD-certified housing counseling agencies. Maine 211 can help as well.
As mentioned in homeownership below, any tenants in Federal Government financed buildings by USDA, FHA/HUD, or Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac have an eviciton moratorium. Most evictions in Maine are on hold anyway, and the MaineHousing Rental Assistance Program is now open.
Contact Pine Tree Legal, Maine Equal Justice, or Penquis Housing Counseling if you need help. For more information on Federal/US-wide topics on rental support, see CFPB’s page on Help for Renters.
- [OPEN NOW] MaineHousing Emergency Rental Relief Program is open again, can cover up to 12 months’ of rent and utilities as far back as March 2020 and pay for up to 3 months’ rent in advance. You must work closely with your landlord. Maine’s Community Action agencies, like Penquis, are helping with the distribution of these funds. You can sign up for email updates at the bottom of the MaineHousing page.
- The US CDC rental eviction moratorium is extended to June 30, 2021. See this site for a Declaration Form that you can file with your landlord.
- State of Maine Eviction Court – Eviction court proceedings are somewhat open now, but there is quite a backlog and not fully in person like before. There is testing of court proceedings online. There are some exceptions for extreme cases of tenant/landlord issues.
As of 2/16/21, all direct government agencies, FHA/HUD, VA, and USDA as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (through FHFA on 2/25/21) have extended their deadlines to apply for mortgage forbearance/deferrals to June 30, 2021 – there is also a foreclosure moratorium through June 30. You can find more at the White House Fact Sheet on Forbearance and Foreclosures, this CFPB housing relief page, and the National Fair Housing Alliance Summary Sheet. Not sure who your loan is with? You can look it up here at the CFPB website.
Contact Pine Tree Legal, Penquis Housing Counseling, or Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection (BCCP) if you need help.
- State of Maine Foreclosure Mediation Court – foreclosure mediation and court proceedings are effectively closed now. There is testing of mediation and court proceedings online but is not active.
- FHA Loan foreclosure (and rental) eviction moratorium is extended through June 30, 2021.
- FHA forbearance/deferral requests are extended to June 30, 2021 as well.
- Fannie Mae/FNMA and Freddie Mac (under FHFA)
- FannieMae/Freddie Mac have extended the foreclosure (and eviction) moratorium to June 30, 2021.
- They did not address a forbearance/deferral request deadline, but requests can still be made until further notice.
- USDA’s loan foreclosure (and eviction) moratorium is extended to June 30, 2021.
- USDA’s loan forbearance/deferral request deadline is extended to June 30, 2021.
- VA’s loan foreclosure moratorium is extended to June 30, 2021.
- VA’s loan forbearance/deferral request deadline is June 30, 2021 (Update) 31.
More Support Coming – March Federal Relief Package
- It will be several months, but there is $10 billion in assistance to homeowners in trouble of default or foreclosure
- an additional $21.5 billion in rental assistance in addition to the program running now with MaineHousing
If you need help with your housing situation, contact one of our Penquis housing counselors here or email us at MSFInfo@penquis.org.
An affordable and livable alternative to the housing affordability crisis
MaineStream Finance would often have clients come through our doors asking if we could finance manufactured housing/ mobile homes. Because of our funding source requirements, we always had to say no. There were enough clients and partners asking that we investigated whether we should create a specific product and funding source to finance manufactured housing. Manufactured Housing (fka mobile homes) has greatly improved
over the years with extensive oversight by HUD at the manufacturing facility and now often retain their value like stickbuilt homes, as long as general maintenance is kept. Manufactured homes can often cost less than $100,000, which is often a maximum price point that low income clients have that they can afford. Right now throughout Maine, there is a lack of supply of homes for sale and very high demand – and many low income homebuyers are being priced out of owning their own home despite rates being historically low.
MaineStream Finance believes manufactured homes can be a good alternative for an affordable and livable home for low income families. and we have now launched a new manufactured home/mobile home loan! Some highlights of our new manufactured home loan product are:
- Our loans can finance manufactured homes on owned land or in residentowned-communities (ROCs).
- Can be up to 30 years for full maturity.
- Our rates are typically much lower than some of the major, national lenders with rates that can well exceed 10%.
- Much lower down payments and closing costs requirements as well.
- No minimum credit score – we will work with clients on issues to address.
Give our loan officer, Roberta Teeto, a shout if you know someone who might be interested in this new type of home and financing at MSFInfo@penquis.org and visit the new Manufactured Home Loan page!
Many would say it would be a crazy time to buy a home or refi your home with all that is going on around us right now. However, if home buying or refinancing your mortgage has been on your mind for a while, and you have the time to explore, it may be a perfect time to do so. In honor of NeighborWorks Week, a 240+-member organization promoting affordable housing for all, and June being Homeownership Month, Penquis and MaineStream Finance provide some general tips and questions to ask as you assess whether to move forward or not on buying or ‘refi’ing’.
Should I Buy?
- Positives for buying a home:
- Home prices are slightly lower than prior to March
- Interest rates are very low
- Many folks have the time to think through the process, get to closing, and move in
- There are lots of good lending programs through MaineHousing, VA, FHA to make closing and borrowing affordable.
- Sometimes the cost of the home can actually be less than renting and you can have the home you want.
- Potential Pitfalls when buying:
- The inventory for homes for sale inventory is down. Many would-be sellers have decided to pull their home off the market and wait.
- The process can be logistically difficult for home showings, virtual closings, etc. Realtors and Banking are essential businesses and are open – closings are happening. Talk through with your realtor and lender how the process will work and what to expect in terms of how much slower it may be.
- Some of the larger banks and mortgage companies are raising credit scores and down payment requirements.
- What to do next:
- Ask how much can I afford? There are lots of good mortgage calculators out there. Compare it to what you pay for rent but remember to add in utilities, taxes, and upkeep of the new house. You don’t have to buy a home that is the maximum amount you can afford either!
- Take a Home Buyer Class online to prep you for the process– Maine HoMEworks, including Penquis, is offering online Home Buyer Education classes throughout the summer. Please visit:
Should I Refi?
- Positives for refinancing your mortgage:
- Rates are historically low and cannot go much lower
- Do not generally need an appraisal
- Can lower payments with a lower interest rate and/or a longer loan period
- Lenders are generally more open to refinancing now than financing new home purchases right now.
- Things to pause on:
- If you are in deferment or forbearance with your existing mortgage, it may be more difficult to refinance, esp. with a new lender. If you are currently unemployed or furloughed, it may be difficult in general to be refinanced at all.
- Be very careful of aggressive marketing tactics to refinance through phone calls, letters in the mail, and email/texts. Look at your existing bank’s offerings first. If you go with an online lender, go to a reputable lending hub like LendingTree or BankRate.com so that you are in the driver’s seat of the process– not being pushed into something.
- Be careful of refinancing for cash out – much of the 2008 crisis was caused due to too much equity being removed by homeowners prior to the crisis.
- Make sure it is worth it – a general rule of thumb is not to refi if you are not planning on staying in the home for more than five years or only have 5 years left on your mortgage. Compare the interest rate you have now not to the quoted refi interest rate but compared to what is called the APR that includes all of the fees (or points) you must pay to refinance. Here are some refinance calculators:
June 15, 2020
To find out more about housing issues (rental, mortgages, etc) during COVID – check out our Housing Resources page. To find out more about Personal Finances during COVID-19, go here.