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In Bad Times, a Little Mortgage Goodwill

Here in Canada we’ve been lucky enough to stay far away from the current crisis in Moore, Oklahoma, with our televisions being as close as any of us will ever get to it. But as we watch those families pick up the pieces of their lives, and cameras span pile after pile of wood that were once people’s homes, we can’t help but feel for them and want to help.

While there may be little we can do other than donating to Red Cross or other charities set up for the tornado victims, there are mortgage lenders in the town that are deferring payments and for the time being, turning a blind eye to missed mortgage payments. All because in times of trouble, people seem to remember what’s really important. That’s certainly the case with lenders in Moore, as many are trying to not only help homeowners with their mortgage payments, but also give them access to funds they may have had at the bank.

Neil Schemmer, president of First American Bank, said that in times like these, even wallets and purses can go missing, leaving people with not only no home, but not even a penny in spare change. He says that his bank sees it as their duty to help those with mortgages focus on what’s important right now, and to help those with accounts at the bank gain access to their money.

“We are definitely liberalizing our procedures right now in assisting with checks and helping people gain access to their funds,” he says. “As far as those who have had serious damage, our job is to work with them, and if they have a mortgage with us, we will be open to deferring payments and assisting our borrower as they work through a difficult time.”

Of course, this is in the United States, and lenders there are able to do that because of specific guidelines set out by Fannie Mae that allow lenders to take liberties such as these. But as we know, mortgages are very different here than they are in the U.S. So, what’s a Canadian homeowner to do should natural disaster keep them from making their mortgage payments?

Well, similarly to this story about the First American Bank in Moore, it will largely depend on the lender and what their policies are. CMHC, the Crown corporation that’s often thought to be the equivalent of Fannie Mae, does have some guidelines here, but they all equal out to speaking to your mortgage broker or your lender.

The chances are good that if a hurricane, tornado, or severe flood were to ever damage your home to the point that you couldn’t live in it for some time, your broker or lender will be happy to work with you to come up with a solution that will defer payments for a little while, or another solution that would help the homeowner just as much. After all, this is Canada, and we’re also all about helping each other in times of need, eh?

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