coronavirus

NBC 5 Responds Answers Questions from Worried Homeowners

'If can’t afford to make my mortgage payments, what recourse do I have?' 'Are realtors allowed to host open houses during the coronavirus crisis?'

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There is no denying the economic impact of the coronavirus is hitting home-literally. NBC 5 Responds got lots of questions from viewers who are worried about how they’ll make their mortgage payments, along with some concerning scenarios surfacing in the world of real estate.

We’ll start with consumers, many of whom have been laid off or furloughed, and are concerned about making their mortgage payments.

The encouraging news is that federal regulators have ordered government-backed lenders, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to give flexibility to homeowners who’ve lost income or jobs by reducing or suspending payments for up to 12 months.

But what about homeowners with conventional loans – not government backed-- like Suzie Adams in northwest Indiana.

She wrote to NBC 5 Responds, saying she and her husband both lost their jobs due to the current crisis. And that when she called her servicer, Quicken Loans, to ask for a forbearance, she said she was told, “It’s too soon to do anything about any type of forbearance …” and “there will be no decision until the earliest date of April 15."

With so many companies offering leniency, we asked Quicken Loans what it’s doing to help customers like Adams. The company told us it “stands by to help our clients during this difficult time” and reviews “each individual situation.”

Quicken Loans did not say whether it issued that April 15 deadline or if they would help Adams specifically.

Now, questions we’re getting about realtors: can they hold open houses at homes for sale, and should renters living there let them in?

NBC 5 Responds viewer Steven Cook from Warrenville doesn’t think so.

“Currently, I am renting and my landlord and realtor are insisting that open houses and showings are legal... and that their business is essential," he wrote. “People are coming into my house without gloves or masks.”

Real estate is on the governor’s list of essential businesses, but the Illinois Association of Realtors website says:

“Whether realtors hold open houses, at this time, so far, continues to be an independent business decision.”

The association does suggest that open house marketing may not be in the best interest of the public right now.

The Chicago Association of Realtors is taking a harder stance. While it does not have the authority to prohibit or restrict brokers from holding an open house, it is recommending brokers not host them during the COVID-19, saying it puts brokers, their clients and the public at risk.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to several Chicago-area realtors who said they are now recognizing virtual showings may be the safer option.

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