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Better Ask Barry: Is mortgage or tax relief available?


SALINAS, Calif (KION) This is a stressful time to be a California homeowner, with mortgage payments looming and state property tax payments due in a couple of weeks. Fortunately, there are programs in place to help.

"First and foremost, contact your lender as soon as possible, as soon as you realize that you do not have a regular paycheck coming in,” advised Devon Thorsby, real estate editor for U.S. News and World report. “The lender does not want to for close on your home. It's bad business for them as well."

Governor Newsom has halted all foreclosures until the end of May.  Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both ordered lenders to reduce or suspend payments for up to 12 months, and most other lenders are making accommodations as well.

Don’t just stop paying your mortgage, however. You need to contact your lender and work out a payment plan.

And beware of the difference between a loan forbearance and a loan modification.

A forbearance could mean that you'll have to pay back all the missed payments in one lump sum.

"A loan modification allows you to work with the lender and figure out the best option of repayment for you individually.  You can either suspend payments or even reduce the payments now and add the money back when you're under your feet a little better," said Thorsby.

Despite the coronavirus, state property taxes are still due April 10th.  

Los Angeles County, for example, posted this to its website: “We have no authority to extend the April 10 deadline, as outlined by state law." 

Counties still expect property taxes to be paid on time. However, late payment charges may be waived if a homeowner is unable to pay for reasons related to covid-19.  Requests must be submitted online, and only after April 11th.

Counties ask everyone who can pay their taxes on time to do so.  The counties say they need the money to keep essential services running.  

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Barry Brown

Barry Brown is an anchor and reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.


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