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UPDATE: Hurricane Dorian puts around $800 million of Caribbean property debt in crosshairs

3:45 pm ET August 29, 2019 (MarketWatch)

By Joy Wiltermuth

Fannie, Freddie give impacted homeowners a grace period

Hurricane Dorian already rolled over the Virgin Islands as a Category 1 storm on Wednesday, leaving power outages but minor damage in its wake.

Now the storm appears to be gathering strength in open water as it heads toward and the U.S. mainland, before it lands as a powerful Category 4 hurricane late Sunday or early Monday.

Its latest trajectory suggests Dorian could hit somewhere between the Florida Keys and Georgia.

Dorian thus far caused flooding and power outages, but no major damage ( ( the Virgin Islands and off the coast of Puerto Rico. It bypassed Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan by about 220 miles, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center and now about 370 miles east of the Bahamas.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency identified $792.9 million of commercial property loans in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that had been previously pooled into mortgage bonds deals with exposure to Dorian's path.

The Caribbean is home to luxury resorts, shopping malls and other commercial properties, many of which are financed in a corner of the bond market where property debt is packaged up and sold to investors as bonds.

Analysts at Kroll said rising ocean waters and surge-related inundation were its chief concerns for properties near the coastline, but that heavy rainfall and winds from Dorian could also inflict damage, particularly as it gathers strength.

On the residential property front, housing giants Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie (FMCC) said on Thursday that borrowers impacted by Dorian could be eligible for a suspension of mortgage payments up to 12 months.

Fannie asked its loan handlers to give borrowers an automatic 90-day grace period on properties believed to be impacted once the storm hits.

That means no late fees, foreclosure proceedings or credit bureau reporting, during the grace period.

"We are monitoring the situation, and we urge those in the path of the storm to focus on their safety first as they prepare for the potential impact of Hurricane Dorian," said Malloy Evans, Fannie Mae's chief credit officer for single-family properties, in a statement.

Check out: Why Hurricane Dorian is lifting natural-gas prices (

The U.S. National Hurricane Center on Thursday reported top winds blowing near 85 mph (140 km/h) and said the storm was expected to grow into a major hurricane on Friday.

"Should the storm materialize as currently anticipated, it would be the first major hurricane to make landfall on the eastern coast of Florida since Hurricane Katrina in 2005," wrote Kroll analysts led by Ryan Friend.

-Joy Wiltermuth; 415-439-6400;

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 29, 2019 15:45 ET (19:45 GMT)

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