Our Coronavirus Response
Freddie Mac has business continuity plans in place to ensure we are fulfilling our mission while protecting our staff and community. We are actively tracking the situation and making decisions based on guidance from public health authorities.
To be clear, Freddie Mac is open for business. We are committed to serving our mission and the crucial role we play in the U.S. housing finance system while supporting the health and safety of our communities.
We’ve created this page so you can find all our updates relating to the Multifamily business impacts of COVID-19 in one place. Please check this page regularly. We will post updates here as they are released, and they will remain here with the most recent posts listed first.
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To All Optigo Lenders
As part of our commitment to safely maintain liquidity and stability throughout all economic cycles, we are continually evaluating market conditions and adjusting our business to address evolving conditions. In light of this, we are now requiring a Debt Service Reserve (DSR) for all loans that have yet to be committed. As will be more particularly described in the loan documents, the reserve will be released once the COVID-19 crisis emergency declarations are lifted, full due diligence is confirmed and the property is performing.
Below are specific DSR requirements for our various business lines:
If you have any questions, please reach out to your Freddie Mac representative.
We previously released a contingency plan for temporary changes to our Final Delivery Package Requirements (the Contingency Plan) in the event of (i) widespread disruption in the overnight package delivery system, or (ii) corporate decisions by Freddie Mac, warehouse lenders, Optigo® lenders and/or closing counsel that would limit our or their ability to either deliver or receive original loan documents.
After receiving requests from numerous Optigo lenders and closing counsel, we decided to implement the Contingency Plan, effective April 1, 2020. The Contingency Plan will remain in effect until we deliver the Discontinuance of Contingency Plan Notification. Although the full text of the Contingency Plan is set forth in your letters of commitment, as amended, please note the following effective as of April 1:
While we do not like disrupting our standard delivery processes, we think this is in the best interests of all to better protect staff needed to gather and send or receive the documentation, to prevent documents from being delayed or lost in transit, and to ensure we are in the best position to continue to purchase closed loans in a timely manner in the face of constantly evolving disruptions.
To All Optigo SBL Lenders
Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Freddie Mac Small Balance Loan (SBL) has made temporary changes to our credit requirements. We’ve summarized our temporary credit changes in the SBL COVID-19 Credit & Program Update that is posted on the Originate & Underwrite (O&U) webpage. The changes are effective for all deals taken under app on or after April 2, 2020, unless we have previously communicated otherwise or as specified in the document. Should you have any questions, please reach out to your Freddie Mac relationship manager.
Programmatic Exceptions and Credit Risks
We’ve updated our Program Exceptions and Credit Risks document, along with the Prescreen and Exception Request form to reflect recent changes. You can find these documents on the O&U webpage under References & Tools and Requests & Approvals.
Program Updates FAQs
We’ve received numerous questions regarding recent program changes. In an effort to consolidate and address the frequently asked questions, we’ve posted a document titled SBL COVID-19 FAQs on the O&U webpage under References & Tools. Check it out!
To All Freddie Mac Multifamily Servicers
With the COVID-19 situation rapidly evolving, we're sending a compilation of the latest servicing updates to ensure all our partners are hearing directly from us.
We’re focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of our customers and staff. As shelter-in-place orders and similar government mandates are enforced, we've updated the Freddie Mac Multifamily Servicing Standard and certain policies. Our goal is to reduce disruptions and to maintain the course of business, to the extent possible.
Please reach out to your Freddie Mac Multifamily representative should you have any questions about the information below.
Our Relief Plan
Last week we released a relief plan for borrowers, their properties, their tenants and associated loans impacted by COVID-19. Since then, Congress passed the CARES Act and we are adjusting to make sure we’re in full compliance with those regulations.
Access the latest forbearance agreements, procedure guide and FAQs on our Asset Management webpage under the Asset Management References tab.
Reporting and Remittance on Forbearance Loans
We've created guidance for reporting on loans in forbearance. The guidance includes submitting:
We’ve also posted a remitting example of how P&I payments and Impounds and Reserves would be reported and remitted during the 12-month forbearance period.
The reporting guidance and remitting example can be found on the Investor Reporting webpage under the References tab.
Delivery Stoppage of Final Delivery Packages
On March 13, we developed a contingency plan for the delivery of physical final delivery documents to ensure the safety and well-being of all parties, and to prevent documents from being delayed or lost in transit. Effective April 1, we activated the delivery stoppage.
Servicers should now retain all original documents related to approved servicing transactions or loan document corrections, and instead complete and submit the Servicing Bailee Acknowledgment in the Document Management System (DMS). Freddie Mac will retain its required original signatures for approved servicing transactions and will deliver PDF copies of such signatures to servicers to include in the electronic version of the document uploaded to DMS.
If there are other obstacles to closing an approved servicing transaction related to original signatures or recordation, please contact the Freddie Mac attorney named in the approval letter.
Green Reporting Deadline Extended
We’ve extended the benchmarking metrics reporting deadline for Freddie Mac Multifamily Green Advantage® loans from March 31 to May 31. For assistance completing the benchmarking reports, please refer to the guides on this page in the Resources box.
To All Optigo TAH Lenders
We’ve highlighted some key takeaways from yesterday’s update — and provided some additional details for our TAH lenders:
Debt Service Reserve
We’re here to support the market — and to help keep it going in difficult times.
One way we’re tackling our challenges is through Debt Service Reserve (DSR) — a new option in the current environment when full due diligence is not feasible.
We announced yesterday that we’ll accept deals with modified due diligence — related to third-party reports and property inspections — with at least a six-month DSR. We’ll release the reserve once the COVID-19 crisis is over, full due diligence is confirmed and the property is shown to be performing.
Please note that the Debt Service Agreement will be forthcoming.
Here’s how the DSR works for TAH cash preservation loans:
Other products will be structured as appropriate for individual deals.
For commercial tenants on a property, whose clients are not solely property residents, we will not give credit for commercial income and will underwrite much less of the space’s value. We may make some exceptions for already long-established essential businesses, like a pharmacy, or certain high credit-rated businesses.
Cash-out refinances: DCR and LTV credit parameters will be tightened by +0.05x and -5%, respectively, when a property’s rents are near or at market rents of comparable properties. This happens most often in preservation transactions.
If there is a considerable gap (typically 20%) between a property’s rents and those of comparable market-rate neighborhood properties, we will continue with our normal DCR and LTV credit parameters. This includes properties receiving subsidies and HAP contracts where rent collected is near or at market.
During these tough times, we wish you, your teams and your family all the best. Stay healthy and safe.
We are committed to providing stability and liquidity to the multifamily finance market. In light of COVID-19, we have been adapting to keep business moving in a safe and sound manner while maintaining the safety of our staff, customers, borrowers and their renters.
Last week we issued a press release regarding our approach to dealing with affected properties and associated loans. Since then, Congress passed the CARES Act and we are adjusting to make sure we’re in full compliance with those regulations.
DEBT SERVICE RESERVE
Freddie Mac is fully committed to maintaining liquidity in the market despite the challenges of COVID-19. We realize that performing full due diligence in the current environment is challenging so we are offering an option that provides certainty of execution, despite those obstacles. We are now accepting deals with modified due diligence but will require a minimum six-month Debt Service Reserve (DSR). The reserve will be released once the COVID-19 crisis is over, full due diligence is confirmed and the property is shown to be performing.
There will also be a DSR requirement for all loans that are not yet committed for the offerings below:
Until our view of the market is clearer, we are narrowing our focus on unstabilized offerings such as Lease-Up, Value-add and Moderate Rehab.
We are narrowing our focus for student housing property refinances until fall of 2020. This will give us time to see what impacts COVID-19 ultimately has on the student housing sector. We will consider student housing acquisitions on a very limited basis but have seen that pipeline organically diminish with the uncertainty in this space.
We are narrowing our focus on refinances for seniors housing properties until we see how this market recovers from the pandemic.
Supplementals will not be considered for properties that have elected for forbearance.
Credit changes will be different by product, market and individual properties but our goal is to continue to deliver liquidity in a safe and sound manner.
CAPITAL MARKETS UPDATE
Despite high levels of volatility across all markets in the last few weeks, we are feeling encouraged by some recent improvements and rebounds. We continue to issue new securitizations across all major products (K-fixed, K-floating, and SBL) and continue to maintain an active calendar throughout April.
Thank you for your continued partnership with us during this challenging time.
To All Optigo SBL Lenders
The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented disruption in fulfilling certain underwriting and purchase requirements, such as site inspections and third-party reports. To continue to provide liquidity for borrowers, the Freddie Mac Small Balance Loan (SBL) team will temporarily require a 12-month Debt Service Reserve (DSR) for all new and uncommitted SBL loans during this time, effective March 30. All commitments will require inclusion of the COVID-19 Debt Service Reserve Rider, which will be posted shortly on our website with our other loan documents. Until it is posted, the rider will be attached to issued commitments.
With this DSR in place, Freddie Mac SBL may allow loans to proceed amid the potential economic impacts of COVID-19 and be purchased with certain modified due diligence reports, such as appraisal, zoning, inspection, physical risk report and seismic.
Accessing Funds to Pay the Mortgage: The borrower will need to submit a request with supporting documents showing less than breakeven collections to be able to apply funds from the DSR to the payment of principal and interest.
Releasing Funds Back to Borrower: The release of the remaining DSR will be within 30 days following satisfaction of the following five items:
Here are a few additional details to note:
Please visit our Origination and Underwriting page that includes the new documents for the DSR.
We’ll continue to assess the situation surrounding COVID-19 impacts on the SBL business. Please take note of the credit changes to cash-out refinances and commercial income we rolled out last week. We look forward to closing more SBL loans with you, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to come up with workable solutions during this uncharted time.
To All Optigo SBL Lenders
Temporary Authorization – Immediate Updates to SBL Underwriting
Amid market volatility, Freddie Mac remains steady and open for business. But due to current market conditions, we're making two temporary underwriting changes to our SBL program as follows:
Freddie Mac Multifamily is making credit parameter adjustments across all business lines. These temporary measures will remain in effect until further notice. We continue to look at other ways to address cash-out transactions.
Freddie Mac has developed an approach to deal with impacted borrowers, their properties, their tenants and associated loans. You've likely already received an email in regard to our forbearance approach. If not, please reach out to your Freddie Mac representative for the details.
We've posted a document titled COVID-19 SBL Inspection Guidance on Freddie Mac's Originate and Underwrite webpage under References & Tools regarding guidance and ideas on how to conduct an inspection in the current environment. Please note, we are not requiring anyone to enter occupied units at this time, however, inspections are a risk mitigant. We urge everyone to keep CDC safety guidelines in mind.
To All Optigo Targeted Affordable Housing Lenders
We are offering forbearance up to 90 days and created guidelines for servicers and legal counsel.
Extensions Announcement Coming Soon
We plan to announce extension terms for cash preservation and portfolio loans under application that can’t close in time due to the current situation. Immediate Tax-exempt Loans (TELs), immediate 9% LIHTC and forward conversions can use existing extension features that are standard for these products.
Breakage Language for TELs, 9% LIHTC and Non-LIHTC Forwards
Standard breakage language has been added to TEL products, and we have eliminated the cap on breakage for 9% LIHTC and Non-LIHTC forwards. As always, Freddie Mac will pursue the borrower for any breakage fee that is above the good faith deposit.
Today we announced a nationwide relief plan for Freddie Mac Multifamily borrowers and residents of their apartment properties. Under this program, multifamily landlords whose properties are financed with a Freddie Mac Multifamily fully performing loan can defer their loan payments for 90 days by showing hardship as a consequence of COVID-19 and by gaining lender approval. In turn, we are requiring landlords not to evict any tenant based solely on non-payment of rent during the forbearance period. Through partnership with our network of Optigo® lenders and investors, we anticipate that the program can provide relief for up to 4.2 million U.S. renters across more than 27,000 properties.
“This program is historic in its size, and it has the potential to provide relief to millions of families in multifamily rental homes financed through a Freddie Mac loan,” said Debby Jenkins, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac Multifamily. “Countless Americans are facing unimaginable hardships, and Freddie Mac is doing what we can to provide relief as our nation addresses this global pandemic.”
Freddie Mac Multifamily's coronavirus forbearance program is modeled on its industry-leading disaster-relief forbearance plan introduced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Since then, Freddie Mac has implemented the forbearance plan in response to other natural disasters, including additional hurricanes and the California wildfires.
The American Land Title Association (ALTA) is tracking the operating status of recording jurisdictions around the country based on reports from ALTA members, colleagues, and State/Regional Land Title Associations. You may access ALTA’s Recording Jurisdiction Operating Status Report here: https://www.alta.org/business-tools/coronavirus.cfm.
To All Optigo Targeted Affordable Housing Lenders
Amid intense market volatility, we remain steady and open for business — ready to quote your deals, close and securitize.
Here’s where you can help us respond as efficiently as possible: check the thoroughness and quality of your packages carefully so we can provide accurate, timely pricing. Remember that joint underwriting is an especially good option right now; check with your relationship manager for details.
A complete package must include: all construction review materials for rehabs, copies of appraiser engagement letters signed shortly after taking an application, all required legal analyses, all LURAs, as well as complete and final organization charts.
We’re developing solutions for situations where the complete due diligence requirements for a Freddie Mac loan can’t be completed. Our teams will make decisions on a case-by-case basis on individual property inspection waivers and risk mitigation.
We’re now conducting all meetings virtually. Please contact your relationship manager if in-person meetings are business-critical.
Final Delivery Packages: Contingency Plan
Please see Friday’s announcement on our contingency plan for final delivery packages in case of disruptions.
We have a vital mission and a critical role in the markets — all the more significant in times like these. We will continue to partner with all of you to strengthen your business. Thank you for your flexibility and support. And stay tuned.
To All Optigo Lenders:
We consider the health and safety of our employees, Optigo® lenders, property owners, managers and residents to be of the utmost importance.
As the current situation changes moment by moment regarding travel and “social distancing,” we are balancing health and safety with prudent lending practices.
Property inspections are critical to the commercial real estate and lending markets, and the current situation is making this more difficult. Given increasing hesitation for all parties to travel — and from owners, managers and residents to allow in-unit inspections of their properties — we are working with our teams to develop solutions to situations where the complete due diligence requirements for a Freddie Mac loan cannot be completed as usual. Unfortunately these solutions will vary by product, property type, location and level of due diligence waivers that are being sought — along with mitigants to the increased risk associated with a particular property inspection waiver.
Due to the number of different types of requests we are receiving, we can’t provide a one-size-fits-all solution.
That said, we are empowering our regional leadership teams with the ability to make decisions on a case-by-case basis as to how each individual property inspection waiver can be viewed from a risk mitigation perspective. The answer may vary, and Conventional, Targeted Affordable, Seniors Housing and Small Balance Loans will all have a different solution as each has a different risk profile and underwriting process.
Please work with your regional and/or product leadership teams to ensure that your individual situation is addressed.
Thank you for your flexibility as we tackle this issue together.
To All Optigo Lenders:
Freddie Mac is fully engaged in addressing changing market conditions and is working to ensure you are kept updated. If you have any questions about the update below, please reach out to your Freddie Mac Multifamily representative.
With market turbulence intensified by public health news and the oil fight, Treasurys continue to reach new lows, and we are committed to serving our mission. As you’ve likely read, recordation and closing agencies are starting to report closures. We are working with our Optigo® lenders, legal teams, title companies and closing offices to determine potential resolutions. To ensure we can provide the service you and your borrowers expect, we are implementing the following changes for Conventional and Targeted Affordable business:
In response to public health concerns, we’re seeing many organizations move to flexible work arrangements, and Freddie Mac is doing the same and leveraging technology to maintain business functions seamlessly.
Our One-Team strategy is paying off, and we’re sharing resources across business lines and regions as needed. That said, please ask your teams to be patient as we work to adjust to this new normal.
Transparency and communication have always been our hallmarks, and now more than ever, we will do our best to keep you informed on our strategy and any updates going forward.
Providing liquidity and ensuring there is stability in the multifamily space is a critical role of Freddie Mac. This is why we are here and why we will stay committed to partnering with you and your borrowers throughout the year.
Thank you for your business. And on a personal note, stay safe.
To All for Conventional and TAH Optigo Lenders
Freddie Mac is taking a pause on Index Lock Agreements. Effective immediately, Freddie Mac hereby with this communication rescinds and revokes each and every Index Lock Agreement (ILA) that has been issued by Freddie Mac to an Optigo® lender that has not yet been signed and uploaded to the Document Management System (DMS) by the Optigo lender, in accordance with Section 1 of the ILA.
For those transactions other than student housing, seniors housing, lease-up, and supplemental loans, we currently intend to reissue a new ILA as soon as reasonably practicable, if the Optigo lender requests it.
Every ILA that has been accepted and received by Freddie Mac via DMS as of the time of this email will remain in full force and effect and will be processed in accordance with our then-current business practices when we resume our Index Lock activity.
Additionally, effective immediately, Freddie Mac will no longer interest rate lock any Early Rate Lock Application (ERLA) that has not yet been signed and uploaded into DMS by the Optigo lender. We currently intend to reissue revised ERLAs as soon as reasonably practicable when we resume our early-rate locks.
Thank you for your understanding of these changes. We appreciate your continued partnership — and your business — as we navigate this extraordinary situation together.
To Underwriters and Servicers
In light of current public health concerns, we have created a contingency plan for final delivery packages should there be obstacles to delivering loan documents. Our goal is to minimize potential impacts to our ability to fund the loans you have closed.
The safety of our customers and staff is our utmost concern. We will continue to assess the situation and provide further updates.
To All Optigo Lenders
The week has just begun, and Treasurys continue to drop to historic lows. Spreads have widened markedly, and we are all watching the unprecedented volatility across the financial markets, including oil and equities.
We are showing our support by responding to inflows, but even though we are quoting all deals, you may see some longer turnarounds. We believe the newly instituted Treasury floor — the greater of 75 bps or -15 from the Treasury at the time of quote — should provide more stability and certainty for quoting, especially in conjunction with our 60-day spread hold (90+ days for TAH) and our ability to index lock. The certainty we provide is more important than ever.
We’ll continue to adjust the grid and quote timelines in response to market volatility. Please encourage your teams to use the published grids for soft quotes and to narrow down scenarios, so we can better manage the pipeline and focus on live opportunities.
All quotes will be active for five business days, even initial quotes.
Small Balance Loans
We continue to actively move SBL grids given rate volatility and volume. Also, given the current levels of the 10-year U.S. Treasury, we are considering coupon floors. We will be watching this week’s SB72 transaction to determine how this spread volatility is affecting our SBL securitizations. Be on the lookout for updates from our SBL team later this week.
Keep in mind that the very favorable rate environment may result in more Refinance Test result failures. We will evaluate each failure, but note that because of the current environment we will have less appetite for Refinance Test exceptions, especially on the higher end of the leverage scale.
Inspections Continue as Travel is Minimized
All non-essential business travel by our staff is on hold for a period of 60 days, through Sunday, May 3, or until further notice. Only essential business travel will be allowed, and essential includes travel needed to conduct inspections when there are no other alternatives. We plan to minimize travel for inspections by leveraging nearby staff across business lines and using delegated inspections in certain cases. Travel for customer meetings is considered non-essential, and we are encouraging alternatives, such as video or teleconferences.
While the current volatility is unprecedented, we’re confident that by maintaining a steady course and working in close partnership with all of you, we will navigate these challenges. And regardless of the market turbulence going forward, we will be open for business, holding spreads, quoting all deals and serving our mission.
To All Optigo Lenders
Freddie Mac recently suspended all non-essential business travel for a period of 60 days, through Sunday, May 3, or until further notice. This precautionary measure will limit Freddie Mac Multifamily staff business travel to property inspections that are viewed as essential.
For customer meetings that would typically involve travel, we are encouraging our staff and customers to consider alternatives, such as video- or teleconferences.
For property inspections, we plan to minimize the need for travel by leveraging nearby staff and using delegated inspections in certain cases.
As always, the safety of our staff and customers is our utmost concern, and we will continue to take appropriate steps to help protect their safety while preserving the continuity of our business and market liquidity.
We continue to quote, underwrite and service deals to serve the financing needs of our customers, and appreciate your flexibility and support.
To All Optigo Lenders
The 10-yr Treasury continues to drop to new lows, with coronavirus concerns hitting the financial markets and demand increasing for the relative safety and positive yield U.S. debt offers.
Not surprisingly, we’ve been fielding questions from many of you about how this volatility impacts your deals. Our overall approach is the same as what you’re used to seeing from us – steady and calm. We’ve been through exceptional fluctuations before and will continue to monitor the market and take a measured response as needed.
Treasury floors were set in place to protect against times of extreme volatility, such as this, and they are crucial in allowing us to continue offering our 60-day spread hold. This is where the value of our Index Lock really shines – we can lock a deal now and guarantee your spread throughout the hold period. The volatility in the market will likely continue, and our lock offers needed certainty. Upon quote expiration, updates or revisions will reflect the current pricing environment.
Deals Under App
If you’re under app with us, stay the course. Floors are held throughout the application process, as are spreads. We hold spreads for 60 days and pride ourselves on our certainty of execution. And we look for the same certainty of execution from our Optigo® lenders.
We understand that folks are uncomfortable with the current volatility of the market – but we’ve been here before. We’re confident in our ability to weather the ups and downs, and we’re also confident in our partnership with all of you as we work together.