Lessons Learned from Mortgage Borrower Policies and Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic
This paper reviews the aid offered to the roughly 50 million homeowners with mortgages included in a forbearance program, and the Federal Reserve’s actions that pushed down mortgage rates, allowing many mortgage holders to reduce their monthly payments by refinancing. The authors deem these policies to be quite effective in relieving financial distress and allowing homeowners to stay in their homes, especially in contrast with the policies pursued during the Great Recession. They emphasize that these policies in part worked because of rising housing prices and home equity, before and during the pandemic, and note that such conditions might not hold in future downturns. The authors observe that minority mortgage borrowers were much more likely to miss mortgage payments, so forbearance was particularly important to them. Black and Hispanic borrowers, however, were less likely than white or Asian borrowers to refinance.