LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — More than 3.8 million American mortgages have gone into forbearance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Soledad Lam, who lives in Mission Viejo was one of them. She was granted a 90-day forbearance by her lender back in March, but she was afraid she would face a ballon payment at the end of it, so she asked for a loan modification.

“They responded with a higher monthly payment, a higher interest rate and they also increased my escrow payment by $500,” she said.

Under the modification, her interest rate would go up one point and her monthly mortgage would jump $1,000.

“They said  that was what it was,” she said. “I can either choose to take it, and I had to make payment by June 1 with it, or come up with the entire 90 days that’s due.”

So Lam chose to liquidate her 401K in order to pay the entire amount due.

“It’s hard,” she said. “But we’ll make it happen.”

Mark Miller, CEO of Barcode Financial, said that taking a forbearance now could mean a change in interest rates and monthly payments in the future.

“A forbearance doesn’t erase what you owe,” he said. “You’ll have to pay any missed payments or reduced payments in the future, so basically if you are able to make your payments, you should keep making them.”

He also said the forbearance could keep people from refinancing in the future.

“As of right now, if you’re entering forbearance you may not be able to be able to take out another mortgage for 12 months,” he said. “So this is going cause homeowners to miss opportunities in housing, whether you are buying or refinancing when rates are expected to stay low.

Miller said the best option for homeowners in forbearance would be to tack on missed payments to the end of the loan, but not all lenders offer that.

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