First Bank COVID-19 Information
Important First Bank COVID-19 Information and Resources
As this pandemic plays out, we assure you that the health and safety of our team members is of top priority. Rest assured, we have processes and policies in place to ensure our work environments are as safe and clean as possible as the virus continues to impact our communities. As always, we will continue to be there for you and your loved ones during this unsettling time. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
For Our Customers...
Stay up-to-date on the latest news revolving around COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer great prevention tips and updates to help you stay on top of what’s going on.
Create an online account at firstbank.servicingdivision.com. This way you will have access to all of the tools you need to manage your mortgage at any time. This includes payment activity, payment changes, FAQs, important documents, etc.
Scammers may take advantage of uncertain times like what we are going through right now. No one from First Bank will ask you for your personal information in an email or text message. If we reach out to you, we won't ask for confidential information such as your name, password, personal identification number (PIN) or other account information. See the Federal Trade Commission's advice for consumers to protect yourself from scams.
FAQs about COVID-19 and your mortgage:
I’m having difficulty making payments to my mortgage due to the national COVID-19 emergency, what are some relief options that you’re offering?
As a servicer of loans backed by the federal government, which include FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loans, and in accordance with provisions of the CARES Act, if customers are experiencing a financial hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic we are permitted to allow these requesting borrowers to temporarily suspend mortgage payments. This is known as a forbearance. In a nutshell, a forbearance provides an opportunity to pause mortgage payments for a set period of time. However, it’s important to point out that a forbearance is not a waiver of payments. Any payments missed will still need to be paid back at the end of the forbearance period or through a post-forbearance relief option.
What do I need to know about forbearance?
You should know that during a forbearance, no payments are expected; however, payments will still be accepted. There will be no late charges assessed to your account, and negative credit reporting is suppressed. The purpose of a forbearance is to offer temporary relief by suspending payments for a set period of time for those impacted by COVID-19.
However, it is important to understand that once the forbearance plan expires, the total amount of all outstanding monthly mortgage payments that were suspended during the forbearance period, as well as any previously delinquent amounts, will become due, unless further assistance is requested and addressed through post-forbearance options, and credit reporting will resume.
For example: Let’s say your monthly mortgage payment is $1,000, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. If you choose to enter a 90-day forbearance plan, you won’t owe that $1,000 for the next three months. But at the end of the 90-day plan, you’ll owe $3,000 (or $1,000/month for the past 3 months) to become current again.
This can result in payment shock for some, which is why as your servicer we will remain in contact with you during your forbearance period to discuss your unique situation, including what options are available to you for paying back the missed payments at the end of your forbearance term.
Why am I only being offered a 90-day forbearance? I am hearing I can get one for up to a year or longer.
While it is true that under the CARES Act forbearances can be offered for up to 180 days, and extended out for another 180 days, it’s important to understand that a forbearance effectively kicks payments “down the road”. When the forbearance period ends, you’re still obligated for all the missed payments. The longer the forbearance period, the more missed payments you’ll have to repay, which means a larger sum that will become due. That can create a tremendous financial burden, which may be too much for some to bear. If not handled responsibly it could ultimately lead to default, which could result in foreclosure.
That’s why we believe the best way to manage this program is to start with a 90-day forbearance period, which provides our customers with immediate payment relief to address the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the initial 90-day relief period comes to a close, together we can assess your financial situation and work with you to determine which of the available post-forbearance options is best for you to help get you back on track.
Note: While it is our practice to offer forbearance in 90-day increments, if you would like to request a forbearance for a longer period, First Bank will honor the request for up to 180-days.
For mortgages backed by FHA, VA, or USDA, First Bank is authorized to provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in 90-day increments, for customers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. For mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, customers may be eligible for an additional forbearance extension of up to three months. Eligibility for the extension is limited to borrowers who are on a COVID-19 forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021, and other limits may apply.
When do I need to request a forbearance by?
Based on federal guidance, the initial mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window for loans backed by FHA, VA, and USDA is currently open until June 30, 2021 for customers who wish to request an initial forbearance based on COVID-19 hardship. If you qualify for another type of special forbearance based on non-COVID-19 related hardship, such as a FEMA-declared natural disaster, different deadlines will apply. We encourage you to contact our Customer Care Center for additional information.
What are my current options for after the forbearance period?
Before the end of your forbearance period, we will work together with you to determine what will be the appropriate next steps based on your unique situation. We ask that you contact us 30-days prior to the end of your forbearance plan, which gives us time to reassess your hardship and financial status, and helps us determine your eligibility for additional relief options. Some of those options include:
A reinstatement: This is where you make up missed payments in a lump sum to bring your account current and continue to make regular, on time payments. While that’s the quickest way to get back on track, we understand not everyone will be able to do that.
A repayment plan: This is where you work to bring your loan current over time by making monthly payments in excess of your contractual payment amount.
A deferral or standalone partial claim: This is where the amount of the delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff. This option is not available for all loan products. In order to qualify certain criteria must be met. See FAQ below for additional information.
An extension of your forbearance: If your situation has not changed, or is still unstable, we can look to extend your forbearance another 90-days. But remember, any payments suspended during forbearance will still be due at the end of the forbearance period unless additional assistance is requested.
Loan modification: This is where we modify the terms of the Note to help get you current and potentially provide for a lower monthly payment going forward. In order to take advantage of this option, you’ll have to submit a full mortgage assistance application package for review.
Each of these options has their pros and cons, and may have additional eligibility and qualification requirements. That is why it is important that we stay in contact throughout your forbearance term so that we can work together to determine the right solution that’s tailored to your unique situation.
I’m hearing a lot in the news about mortgage forgiveness and payment deferrals. Is that an option for me?
There has been a lot of misinformation during this current situation about what servicers can or should be doing to help people impacted by COVID-19. Politicians, the media, and maybe even some of your neighbors are talking about “pushing missed payments to the end of the loan” also known as a deferral. Or they might even be talking about outright payment forgiveness.
For the vast majority of homeowners, these programs may not be available. As a servicer of loans backed by the federal government, including FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loans, we are contractually obligated to follow guidance set forth by the agency or investor which insures your loan.
Not all agencies have deferral options available to assist today. However, we know our agency partners are hard at work to put out guidance in response to COVID-19 hardships and we anticipate additional relief options will be made available in the future. As soon as we are aware of additional relief options, we will be sure to communicate those options.
Current deferral options include:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans: COVID-19 Payment Deferral, a new workout option specifically designed to help borrowers impacted by a hardship related to COVID-19 return their mortgage to a current status after up to 18 months of missed payments. The amount of delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff, and all other terms of the mortgage remain unchanged. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:
The borrower has experienced a financial hardship resulting from COVID-19 that impacted their ability to make their monthly mortgage loan payment, which has been resolved.
The mortgage loan must have been current or less than two months delinquent as of March 1, 2020.
The mortgage loan must be equal to or more than one month delinquent, but less than or equal to 18 months delinquent as of the date of evaluation.
Note: You cannot defer future payments, only those that have already been missed. Therefore, in order to be eligible for a deferral, you need to have missed payments while under a forbearance plan, or otherwise fell behind. Deferrals are only an option for borrowers whose hardship has been resolved where the borrower can resume making regular monthly payments.
Similar options offered by other agency-backed loans include:
FHA Loans: COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim. The amount of delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:
The borrower indicates they have the ability to resume making on-time mortgage payments.
The property is owner-occupied.
Note: You cannot defer future payments, only those that have already been missed. Therefore, in order to be eligible for a COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim, you need to have missed payments while under a forbearance plan. COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claims are only an option for borrowers whose hardship has been resolved where the borrower can resume making regular monthly payments.
For borrowers with VA or USDA Loans: At this time, First Bank does not offer a deferral option for these types of loans. However, modification options may be available to you.
Your Customer Ally will remain in contact with you to determine eligibility and next steps. Please ensure that you remain in contact with your Customer Ally as it is important we speak with you about options approximately 30 days prior to your forbearance plan end date. Remember, you can contact us any time if you have questions.
What can I expect during the forbearance period?
During your forbearance period, no payments are expected. There will be no late charges assessed to your account, negative credit reporting is suppressed, and you will continue to receive your monthly billing statement. Also, we will be in contact with you periodically to discuss your specific situation, including what options are available to you at the end of your forbearance term. If you have any questions, during your forbearance period, please contact us. We’re here to help you.
Can I make payments during my forbearance period?
Yes, you can make payments during your forbearance and we encourage you to do so if possible. Even if you can’t make your full monthly payment, partial payments will be accepted under forbearance plans. It is important to remember that the forbearance plan is intended for temporary hardship, and is not intended for long-term relief. Once the forbearance plan expires, the total amount of all outstanding monthly mortgage payments that were suspended during the forbearance period, as well as any previously delinquent amounts, will become due. So if you can pay even part of your monthly obligation during the forbearance plan, we encourage you to do so.
Important: If you are set up on recurring ACH payments, entering a forbearance plan will automatically turn off your recurring payments. If you would like to continue to make full or partial payments through recurring ACH, you will have to re-enroll in our auto drafting program.
If my situation changes, can I cancel my plan before the forbearance period ends?
Yes, you can cancel your forbearance plan at any time. Should your financial situation improve prior to the end of your forbearance period, and you are able to resume making your normal payments again, we can stop your forbearance plan and work with you on your options to get you back on track.
How will forbearance impact my credit?
Through the duration of your forbearance plan, we will not assess any late charges and negative credit reporting will be suppressed, but only for the duration of the plan. Once your forbearance plan ends, we will resume credit reporting. Each credit bureau leverages their own algorithms to determine how to score your credit, and although negative credit reporting is suppressed during a forbearance, meaning we will not report that a payment was skipped during the forbearance plan, it is possible that a credit agency may assess your credit differently in the absence of such reporting. If you have questions on how credit bureaus measure credit scores, we encourage you to contact them directly.
Will this impact my ability to refinance in the future?
Remember that while you’re on a forbearance plan, we will not negatively report your credit. However, it’s possible that some lenders or loan products may restrict refinancing if you’ve recently been on a forbearance plan. If you have questions, we suggest you speak with your mortgage lender or a licensed mortgage loan originator regarding your ability to refinance.
How do I avoid forbearance scams?
Unfortunately, scammers are out there in times like this. What you should know is that we will never ever ask you for your personal information in an email or text message. If we reach out to you, we won’t ask for confidential information, such as your name, password, personal identification number (PIN) or other account information. We encourage you to be aware of loss mitigation and foreclosure rescue scams. If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, please contact us directly to inquire.
Some investors and state and local jurisdictions have begun to suspend or stop Foreclosure sales during this pandemic. Each investor has different guidelines and First Bank must be sure we are servicing these loans per their unique guidelines. Our leadership will continue to be in constant communication with our investors and jurisdictions and will update team members immediately if the investor guidelines change. Current guidance is as follows:
FHA, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae (FNMA) & Freddie Mac (FHLMC)
All FHA, USDA and VA Foreclosure referrals, Foreclosure sales & evictions are currently halted through June 30, 2021, excluding vacant or abandoned properties. All Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Foreclosure referrals, Foreclosure sales & evictions are currently halted through June 30, 2021, excluding vacant or abandoned properties. If the account is in Foreclosure, but a sale date is not scheduled, we are not scheduling one at this time.
Some state and local jurisdictions have set forth their own moratorium timelines that are longer than the current moratorium timeline outlined by the agencies above. First Bank will comply with all applicable state and local foreclosure moratoriums.
Customer Service Information:
While we hope COVID-19 doesn’t affect you, please be aware that our Customer Care team is standing by ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us at (855) 673-3368. You can also visit our HELP/FAQ page located on firstbank.servicingdivision.com under the “HELP” menu.
For Our Team Members and Locations, First Bank...
Has temporarily suspended all customer and partner visits to our offices in order to be consistent with our own travel restrictions and to align with the emerging travel restrictions of our customers and partners.
Has implemented continual education of our team members regarding the importance of proper hygiene. We have also increased stocks and availability of soap, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer in all of our locations.
Has reminded team members that those who are ill should not come to work. All team members must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before returning to work. If a team member exhibits symptoms of the flu while at work, they will be required to go home.
As the situation continues to be fluid, we will do our best to keep you up to date during these unique circumstances. On behalf of everyone at First Bank, we are sending our heartfelt thoughts to you and your loved ones.