More than half of mortgage borrowers face income loss amid COVID-19

by Candyd Mendoza23 Jul 2020

With the coronavirus pandemic far from over, millions of Americans continue to struggle under the weight of a recession.

Over 53% of mortgage borrowers reported some sort of income loss since the COVID-19 outbreak led to a nationwide economic shutdown, according to a LendingTree survey of more than 1,000 mortgage borrowers. When broken down by age groups, 61% of millennials faced income loss, followed by 57% of Gen X and around 37% of baby boomers.

Although more than half of borrowers saw income losses, only 18% of mortgage borrowers have missed a mortgage payment since March 2020. Of those who have deferred paying bills, 5% were not in a mortgage forbearance plan with their lender, which allows a temporary reduction or suspension of monthly payments.

Meanwhile, 82% of borrowers have continued to make payments – 22% of which are in a mortgage forbearance agreement. The survey showed that just 30% of mortgage borrowers have entered into a forbearance deal, while 12% are still negotiating the terms of their mortgage relief, and 2% were denied loan payment deferral.

"The forbearance program is essential to maintaining the health of the housing market and supporting the economy," LendingTree Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze said. "Without it, millions of people would be at risk of losing their homes."

While more than four in 10 borrowers in forbearance have an annual household income of at least $100,000, around 7% of those who applied for mortgage assistance but were denied were earning less than $25,000 in income. This is the highest denial rate among all income brackets, according to LendingTree.

"Unfortunately, the response to the coronavirus crisis has been very poor; many layoffs that were temporary are beginning to become permanent, and the economy is likely to remain weak well into 2021," Kapfidze said.