Who will qualify for 90-day mortgage grace period? Here’s what we know (it’s good news for borrowers)

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Saturday that New Jersey is instituting a 90-day grace period for home mortgage payments for borrowers impacted by coronavirus.

The definition of “impacted” wasn’t as clear.

Murphy, on his daily coronavirus briefing, said borrowers should work with their lenders to determine qualification.

“In terms of your qualification and exactly how that plays out, it’s between mortgage payer and the bank servicing it,” he said.

Mike Affuso, the director of government relations for the New Jersey Bankers Association, said borrowers likely will like what they hear.

Affuso believes there will be an effort to qualify people, as opposed to denying people — something NJ Bankers was in agreement with during the negotiations.

“There will be some application process and you’ll have to show some proof that you actually have been impacted,” he said. “But the governor wants the rules to be liberal and I believe they will be pretty lenient.

“They’re not going to be asking a whole lot of questions, but you are going to demonstrate some minimal way that you’ve been impacted.”

A Wells Fargo spokesman said the grace period will be given to all who request it.

“Customers just need to let us they’ve been impacted,” the spokesperson said. “That’s it; pretty simple.”

“There are no special circumstances necessary for the 90-day payment suspension for any Wells Fargo Home Lending mortgage or home equity customer,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Bank of America said it also is making it easy for customers to get grace periods — and not just on their home mortgages.

Customers can request to defer payments on credit cards as well as auto, home equity and small business loans. In addition, customers can request refunds on overdraft fees, nonsufficient funds fees and monthly maintenance fees. In all of these instances, there will be no negative credit bureau reporting.

As for how the lost payments will be made up, both the governors and the bankers association were in agreement: Additional months will be added to the term of the loan. In other words, there will not be a lump sum payment due at the end of the grace period.

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