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Mortgage Forbearance Vs. Deferment: The Most Important Ways They Differ

June 09, 2023 5-minute read

Author: Kevin Graham


If you’re experiencing trouble making your mortgage payment, a mortgage forbearance along with a deferment may provide much needed relief from a financial hardship. However, it’s important to realize that although the terms are sometimes confused for each other, forbearance and deferment don’t mean the same thing.

This article will take a look at forbearance versus. deferment in the mortgage space, how it affects your credit, how it affects your present and future home financing options – and if either is right for you.

Mortgage Forbearance Vs. Deferment

The big difference between forbearance and deferral boils down to this: A forbearance is the act of pausing or reducing your mortgage payment while a deferment may be a post-forbearance option to help take your mortgage current. A deferment typically moves any missed payments to the end of your loan to be paid when you pay off your mortgage.

What Is Mortgage Forbearance?

Mortgage forbearance is a temporary pause in your payments on your mortgage. Homeowners who request forbearance are often experiencing some sort of financial hardship that is temporary in nature. This might be the loss of a job, dealing with the impact of a natural disaster or an unexpected medical expense.

Although we’ll be discussing mortgage forbearance in this article, you can also receive forbearance from other debts like student loans.

How Does Mortgage Forbearance Work?

If you’ve previously been on biweekly payments, any options you have upon exiting forbearance are only designed to bring your loan current. In order to take advantage of biweekly payments, you need to be a month ahead to start with because you’re only making half a payment on the initial due date.

Forbearance timelines can vary depending on the reason for the forbearance, so speak with your loan servicer. A mortgage servicer is whoever you make your payment to. If you have an escrow account to spread out property tax and insurance payments, they’ll maintain this as well. This may or may not be the lender with whom you did your mortgage.

Qualifying For Forbearance

To qualify for forbearance, in most cases, you have to share with your mortgage servicer evidence of hardship. In some instances, such as forbearances requested after natural disasters, these rules are modified. However, in general, the following rules apply:

Your servicer will have you share information about your struggles. Rocket Mortgage® clients can fill out an Application for Success. As part of that application, you may be asked to provide documentation around income and assets and any bills or other expense evidence. You’ll also be given the opportunity to describe the nature of the hardship and the need for help.

If you’re experiencing financial trouble, your servicer will want to do everything they can to help keep you in your home.

Do You Have To Pay Back Forbearance?

Once the forbearance is over, you have to pay back any missed payments, so it’s helpful to pay what you can during the forbearance. Rocket Mortgage clients can make full or partial payments with the custom payment option in our Payment Center. When the forbearance is over, you have several options for dealing with repayment.

Repayment Options After Forbearance

Deferment is just one repayment option. This all depends on your mortgage investor, what options you qualify for and the type of forbearance you’re applying for. Here are a few common scenarios:

  • Repayment plan: Part of your past-due amount is added to your monthly mortgage payment.
  • Deferment: Also referred to as a partial claim, under this option, a portion or all of your past-due balance is set aside for payment when your mortgage is paid off, you refinance or sell the home.
  • Modification: If you qualify, your mortgage rate and/or term may be modified in order to include your past-due balance.
  • Reinstatement: We know this option isn't for everyone, but if able, this is the fastest way to get your mortgage back on track. You can pay back the full amount due upon exiting the forbearance if you have the funds.

Also, depending on the terms of your forbearance with your servicer, you may or may not have to pay more in interest and other fees due to paused payments. Make sure to be clear with your servicer as to what the agreement is.

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What Is Mortgage Deferment?

Forbearance and mortgage deferment or deferral are terms that are often misused, sometimes even by servicers. However, deferral is an option for dealing with back payments that arise after someone has exited forbearance.

Also referred to as a partial claim, deferral involves taking a number of payments that you may have missed during your forbearance and setting them aside to be paid at the end of your loan.

What Qualifies You For A Mortgage Deferment?

Whether deferral is an option for you depends on who your mortgage investor is, how many payments have been missed and your ability to resume making your regular monthly mortgage payment.

If you can no longer afford your original payment, you may have to look into other options, such as a loan modification, or the possibility of selling your home if long term affordability is ultimately not feasible.

Can Forbearances Or Deferments Hurt Your Credit?

Whether a forbearance affects your credit and how your credit is impacted depends on your situation and the type of forbearance you’re approved for. The best thing to do is to talk to your servicer.

Beyond the actual impact on your credit score, you should be aware that having a forbearance in your past, may or may not lead to waiting periods before you can apply for certain types of loans to purchase or refinance a home.

Forbearance Vs. Deferment: Which Option Is Best For You?

Since deferment is one possible outcome at the end of a forbearance, the real question is not whether deferment or forbearance is best for you, but rather which repayment options are available. Your servicer will determine what you qualify for in terms of repayment alternatives.

If you’re more focused on tackling your student loan debt, you might also be wondering what repayment path to take. The choice between forbearance and deferment will depend on the type of student loans you have as well as your personal financial situation.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to remember that lenders may offer forbearance and deferral options when borrowers experience financial hardships. Forbearance is when you temporarily pause your monthly mortgage payments, whereas a deferment is one possible option for repaying past-due amounts when exiting forbearance. With a deferment, past-due monthly payments are set aside to be paid by the end of the loan.

There are various types of forbearance with different effects on credit and your future mortgage qualification ability. In talking about both the forbearance itself and your repayment options, the best thing to do is speak with your servicer.

For more information on paying your mortgage, check out our article on mortgage help that is available to borrowers who might be financially struggling.


Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham is a Senior Blog Writer for Rocket Companies. He specializes in economics, mortgage qualification and personal finance topics. As someone with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia that requires the use of a wheelchair, he also takes on articles around modifying your home for physical challenges and smart home tech. Kevin has a BA in Journalism from Oakland University. Prior to joining Rocket Mortgage, he freelanced for various newspapers in the Metro Detroit area.