With 2021 underway and the first wave of pandemic-related FHA forbearances set to begin hitting their 12-month caps as early as March, now seems like a good time to summarize where things stand. Forbearance in mortgages backing GNMA securities continues to significantly outpace forbearance in GSE-backed loans, with 7.6% of GNMA loans in forbearance compared to 3.5% for Fannie and Freddie borrowers.[1] Both statistics have slowly declined over the past few months.

Notably, the share of forbearance varies greatly amongst GNMA cohorts, with some cohorts having more than 15% of their loans in forbearance. In the table below, we show the percentage of loans in forbearance for significant cohorts of GN2 30yr Multi-lender pools.

Percent of Loans in Forbearance for GNMA2 30yr Multi-lender Pools:

Cohorts larger than $25 billion. Forbearance as of December 2020 factor date.

Not surprisingly, newer production tends to experience much lower levels of forbearance. Those cohorts are dominated by newly refinanced loans and are comprised mostly of borrowers that have not struggled to make mortgage payments. Conversely, 2017-2019 vintage 3s through 4.5s show much higher forbearance, most likely due to survivor bias – loans in forbearance tend not to refinance and are left behind in the pool. The survivor bias also becomes apparent when you move up the coupon stack within a vintage. Higher coupons tend to see more refinancing activity, and that activity leaves behind a higher proportion of borrowers who cannot refinance due to the very same economic hardships that are requiring their loans to be in forbearance.

GNMA also reports the forbearance end date and length of the forbearance period for each loan. The table below summarizes the distribution of forbearance end dates across all GNMA production. This date is the last month of the currently requested forbearance period.[2]

For loans with forbearance ending in December 2020 (last month), half have taken a total of 9 months of forbearance, with most of the remaining loans taking either three or six months of forbearance.

For loans whose forbearance period rolls in January and February 2021, the total months of forbearance is evenly distributed between 3, 6, and 9 months. Among loans with a forbearance end date of March 2021, more than half will have taken their maximum twelve months of forbearance.[3]

In the chart below, we illustrate how things would look if every Ginnie Mae loan currently in forbearance extended to its full twelve-month maximum. As this analysis shows, a plurality of these mortgages – more than 25 percent — would have a forbearance end date of March 2021, with the remaining forbearance periods expiring later in 2021.

A successful vaccination program is expected to stabilize the economy and (hopefully) end the need for wide-scale forbearance programs. The timing of this economic normalization is unclear, however, and the distribution of current end dates, as illustrated above, suggests that the existing forbearance period may need to be extended for some borrowers in order to forestall a potentially catastrophic credit-driven prepayment spike in GNMA securities.

Contact us if you interested in seeing variations on this theme. Using Edge, we can examine any loan characteristic and generate a S-curve, aging curve, or time series.


[1] As of the December 2020 factor date, using the data reported by the GSEs and GNMA. This data may differ marginally from the Mortgage Bankers Association survey, which is a weekly survey of mortgage servicers.

[2] Data as of the December 2020 factor date.

[3] Charts of January, February and March 2021 rolls are omitted for brevity. See RiskSpan for a copy of these charts.