May 5, 2020 - Economy & Business

Mortgage forbearance requests start to plateau amid coronavirus crisis

Data: Mortgage Bankers Association; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of U.S. mortgages in forbearance increased again in the last full week of April, but new requests slowed significantly from the pace earlier this year, data released Monday by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed.

Why it matters: A total of 3.8 million homeowners are now in forbearance plans, accounting for 7.54% of all mortgages, but that may actually be a good thing.

What's happening: Forbearance requests as a percentage of servicing portfolio volume fell for the third consecutive week, from 1.14% to 0.63%, and calls about forbearance accounted for the lowest percentage of total calls since the survey began in early March.

  • MBA said forbearance requests grew by 1,270% between the week of March 2 and the week of March 16, and another 1,896% between the week of March 16 and the week of March 30.

How it works: The decline in requests and approvals for forbearance suggests that homeowners are still largely able to pay their mortgages, Jaret Seiberg, a researcher at financial services company Cowen Inc., says in a recent note.

  • "We believe Washington is confident that mortgage servicers can handle the current level of forbearance. Absent a surge, we do not see the Federal Reserve establishing a facility to provide additional liquidity as it won't be needed."
  • And the current $6.3 billion in savings is available to "be spent elsewhere in the economy."

Between the lines: "Forbearance is not forgiveness, so homeowners know that they are going to have to pay this money some day," Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, tells Axios.

  • "Typically if you own a house you’re financially savvy enough to know that a foreclosure process can take years, so you know you have some protection."

Go deeper: Coronavirus is squeezing more people out of the housing market

Go deeper

Coronavirus still has a foothold in the South

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Overall, new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are on the decline. But a small handful of states, mainly clustered in the South, aren't seeing any improvement.

The big picture: Our progress, nationwide, is of course good news. But it's fragile progress, and it’s not universal. Stubborn pockets of infection put lives at risk, and they can spread, especially as state lockdowns continue to ease.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,722,859 — Total deaths: 356,435 — Total recoveries — 2,374,387Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,702,911 — Total deaths: 100,576 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Business: U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter — 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
  4. States: America's megacities could lose economic growth due to remote work.
  5. 2020: Joe Biden to speak virtually at Texas Democratic Convention.
  6. ✈️Transportation: What airlines are offering passengers to ensure social distancing.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.