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Lost Your Job Because Of Coronavirus? Help Is Out There For Homeowners

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Millions of Californians are experiencing a double dose of financial panic as mortgage and property tax payments loom amid massive job losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers from the travel industry, restaurants and bars, entertainment, and schools and universities have been laid off or have found themselves suddenly without work due to the closures and shutdowns prompted by the coronavirus outbreak. Los Angeles County has already enacted an emergency moratorium on all residential and commercial evictions in unincorporated areas.

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(credit: CBS)

For homeowners, the first thing to do if in the event of a coronavirus-related job loss is to contact the lender as soon as possible, according to Devon Thorsby, the real estate editor for U.S. News and World Report.

"Your lender does not want to foreclose on your home. It's bad business for them," Thorsby said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has suspended all foreclosures until the end of May, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both ordered lenders to reduce or suspend payments for up to 12 months. Most lenders are making accommodations for the circumstances, but homeowners should not just simply stop making payments.

Homeowners should contact their lenders to make payment arrangements, and beware the difference between a forbearance and a modification — a forbearance could mean all the missed payments would need to be repaid in one lump sum.

State property taxes, however, are still due April 10. The website for the Treasurer and Tax Collector of Los Angeles County says the agency does not have the authority to extend its deadline by state law. The agency's offices are closed, as are many across the state, but the payments are still expected to come in on time.

Late payments may be waived if the homeowner is unable to pay for reasons related to COVID-19. Requests to have a late payment waived can only be submitted the day after the deadline, on April 11. Orange and Riverside counties have similar programs.

However, the agency is asking homeowners who can pay to do so on time, as the funds are needed for critical programs, especially during a state of emergency.

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