Many homeowners using forbearance plans due to COVID-19

Q. I have had financial difficulties during the pandemic. My bank let me into a forbearance program, and I haven’t made a mortgage payment for more than six months. They have now given me a three-month extension, and we will negotiate how the money will be paid back after the three months. Is this common? I would like to know more about forbearance.

A. You are not alone, with 2.6 million homeowners currently in forbearance plans. The number of homes in forbearance plans decreased from 5.23 percent to 5.20 percent from last week to this week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

There also was a small decline in the total share of loans in forbearance in the last week of February, as the pace of forbearance exits increased. This continues the trend reported in prior months.

Of those homeowners in forbearance, more than 12 percent were current at the end of February, down from 14 percent at the end of January. The improving economy, the just-passed stimulus package and the many homeowners in forbearance reaching the 12-month mark of their plans could all influence the overall forbearance share in the coming months.

Job growth picked up sharply in February, and the unemployment rate decreased. But 10 million people are still unemployed, with 4.1 million among the long-term unemployed – up 125,000 from January. The passage of the American Rescue Plan provides needed support for homeowners like you who are continuing to struggle during these challenging times.

Good luck to you.

Updating technology

Q. I am excited to say that I will be soon moving into a house that I bought. It is an older house, so it has no technology features. I would like to add some things for convenience and efficiency. What are some additions that you suggest?

A. While there’s no denying that these cutting-edge devices can help to make your home more efficient and provide convenience in your day-to-day life, certain types of smart technology are more likely to set your house apart when it’s time to put it on the market.

There’s a wide range of smart home technology available these days, from security systems to appliances and everything in between.

Smart toilets: With heated seats, built-in bidets and self-cleaning functionality, these toilets have become increasingly popular in high-end homes. For this reason, a cutting-edge commode might just give your home extra appeal.

Irrigation systems. There’s no getting around it: Lawn maintenance can be a bit of a burden. If you don’t stay on top of it, your home might not show at its best. A smart irrigation system is a solution, as it will use real-time weather data to ensure that your lawn receives just the right amount of water. In addition to keeping your grounds healthy and verdant, it will also help you conserve water.

Wellness platform. Wellness features are all the rage in luxury real estate. A wellness platform like Darwin by Delos will set your home apart in this regard. For instance, Darwin will monitor your air and water quality, as well as sync the lights in your home with your circadian rhythm to help improve sleep quality.

Full automation system. It can be overwhelming, and ultimately less efficient, to have a different app to control every device in your house. That’s where full automation systems, like Savant, Control14 and Crestron, come into play. These state-of-the-art systems offer the utmost convenience by allowing you to control the entire house using a single app. Imagine being able to manage lighting, climate, entertainment and security all in one place.

Lynne French is a Realtor with Compass Real Estate and captain of the Lynne French Team. Contact her at or 925-672-8787.