Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac suspend foreclosures

Foreclosure sign outside house

The two government-owned companies that provide most of the money for home loans made by banks and mortgage companies will halt foreclosures and evictions until Jan. 9.

The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) buy 70% of all mortgages after they are made. They keep some and package others to sell to investors.

You can't tell whether Fannie or Freddie own your loan based on where you send your monthly check. But if you call the customer service number on your monthly statement, your mortgage servicing company can tell you.

Fannie and Freddie will use the foreclosure moratorium to determine whether borrowers qualify for a new loan modification program they announced Nov. 10.

The plan promises to lower interest rates, defer debt or extend the length of loans to lower monthly housing costs -- including taxes and insurance -- to no more than 38% of a homeowner's pretax income.

But you must still be living in the house, be at least three months behind on your payments and meet a long list of other criteria to qualify for help.