Government mortgage-giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spread a little holiday cheer Thursday, announcing that families in foreclosed properties will be allowed to remain in their homes through the holidays.
Fannie and Freddie are the first organizations to announce the eviction freeze, a common gesture in the financial industry intended to give families a greater sense of security during the holidays.
"The holidays are meant for families to spend time together, especially if they've gone through the stress of financial challenges and foreclosure," Terry Edwards, Fannie Mae's executive vice president of credit portfolio management, said in a statement. "No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season."
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But it's hard to say how many Americans will be affected by the moratorium, says Fannie Mae spokesman Andrew Wilson. For instance, as of September 30, Fannie Mae had more than 122,600 homes in its foreclosure inventory. But, many of those homes may already be vacant, in the process of being vacated, or not eligible for eviction during the moratorium window. "It would be some fraction of those" properties in the foreclosure inventory, Wilson says.
The foreclosure process will continue during the moratorium—December 19 through January 2—but families will not be forced to leave their homes until after the holidays.
"If the property is occupied, our foreclosure attorneys will suspend the eviction to provide families a greater measure of certainty during the holidays," Tracy Mooney, senior vice president of servicing and REO at Freddie Mac, said in a release.
The suspension applies only to Fannie- and Freddie-owned properties.