Record-high unemployment since the Great Depression is worrying for people looking to buy a home. And it’s true that it’s very difficult to buy a home while unemployed, since lenders are are looking for stable income. Unemployment income is considered temporary income, which lenders aren’t going to look at. Even once you find a job again, lenders typically want two years of continuous employment. Gaps in employment older than two years don’t impact your chances of lending negatively, though, so that won’t be a concern in a long run.
Another problem is that lack of income could put a strain on your credit score. While you will eventually become employed again, changes to your credit score can be much harder to erase. In order to maximize your chances of getting a loan in the future, you should do as much as you can, starting now, to keep your credit score intact. Always make minimum payments if possible. Ask your landlord and credit companies about other payment plans, deferment, or forbearance. Cut back on unnecessary spending. The good news is that even if your credit score does take a dive, once you’ve settled the debts and start to rebuild your credit, it shouldn’t take too long to get your credit score back up — roughly six months to year, meaning you may have already recovered your credit before lenders will consider your employment to be stable.
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For some people, the impact of coronavirus was minimal and short-lived. These are the people who had job security and a place to work from home, enabling them to continue to earn money while many people were left unemployed or temporarily out of work. Many low-income workers, a group with a large percentage of minorities, were already priced out of owning a home before COVID-19. The economic shutdown exacerbated this issue, while those able to live in relative comfort are looking to enjoy low interest rates by purchasing additional homes, beyond what they already own. This has meant that the housing market has started to rebound relatively quickly, especially in tech centers such as San Francisco, since those with money who are most able to engage in the process were only minorly inconvenienced at the same time that lower-income people fall further behind.
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The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (TPA), enacted last fall, establishes regulations for just cause evictions. The laws primarily apply to apartment units, but may affect other types of residences in certain scenarios. Just cause is required if all tenants have lawfully occupied the residence for 12 consecutive months, or if at least one tenant has lawfully occupied it for 24 consecutive months. In addition, the landlord may be required to provide relocation assistance for no-fault just cause evictions.
The TPA provides several forms used for various types of just cause evictions. The primary distinction is between at-fault and no-fault evictions. The possible reasons for a no-fault eviction are intention to occupy, withdrawal from the rental market, demolition or renovation, or if a government agency determines the property to be unfit for habitation through no fault of the tenant. At-fault evictions are much more complex, and may require either a Three-Day Notice to Perform or a Three-Day Notice to Quit. The latter is also the next step should the tenant not respond appropriately to the former. At-fault just cause may include a breach of lease terms, a default on payment, or criminal activity, among other possibilities.
You can find more information about the TPA at https://journal.firsttuesday.us/2020s-tenant-protection-act-part-i-just-cause-eviction/72036/, or you can call or email us for more information or assistance regarding tenancy or evictions.
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Data has been showing that forbearances on mortgage loans have been trending downwards in June from the peak on May 22, albeit at a slow rate. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. The downward trend totalling 158,000 is almost entirely from loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or FHA/VA loans. Loans backed by banks or private securities are actually up 6000.
This trend points to trouble particularly for self-employed borrowers. Even with some people returning to work or working from home as lockdowns are phased out, in an uncertain economy, self-employed people don’t have the same reliability of income. Most private loans are held by self-employed workers. Without a stable income, self-employed people aren’t certain whether or not they’ll be able to pay back their mortgages until the economy re-situates itself, so more of them are requesting forbearances.
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Two months after reopening, the California economy is recovering unevenly, but recovering nonetheless. The housing market is a strong leader in the recovery process, with low interest rates contributing to a surge in activity after the last two months’ lull. The recovery will take time, though. The UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts a GDP decline of 42% in this quarter before easing back up 11% and then 7.6% in the next two quarters of this year. The total change from last year is expected to be a decline of 8.6%.
May was probably the trough for home sales, and they will pick up in the coming months. The extension of the foreclosure and eviction moratorium coupled with all-time low interest rates should allow buyers to regain their bearings quickly, and thus demand hasn’t suffered. Low supply and and a smaller than expected decrease in unemployment claims could point to a slower pace, but shouldn’t prevent recovery.
Call or email us if you want more information or are ready to buy or sell. Also, if you live in the South Bay or are interested in data about the area, stay tuned for a special South Bay update in early July.
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Don Sabatini, a real estate agent in Willow Glen, CA, relates his true story of his client becoming the victim of a digital real estate scam. The COVID-19 outbreak meant that Sabatini had to conduct much of his business via email, though he and his client agreed to present the cashier’s check in person, while following social distancing guidelines. Despite this agreement, a scammer had been looking in on the email exchange. The client received several emails posing as the title agent, lender, and even Sabatini himself, increasingly threatening in tone. The scammer told the client that the offices will likely be closed, so she should simply wire the money. Feeling pressured by the barrage of threatening emails, she did so. The client and Sabatini realized she’d been scammed the next afternoon, but by then some of the money was irreparably lost. Fortunately, she was able to recover most of it, losing only $2000, and complete the transaction.
This story isn’t an isolated incident. The most recent data is from 2018, with the FBI estimating 11,300 people became victims of an online real estate scam in that year alone. It was an increase of 17% from 2017. Even without data from this year, you can imagine that with current pandemic increasing the rate of online real estate transactions, the rate of scam attempts is also increasing.
We are still conducting business, so don’t hesitate to call or email us if you are looking to buy or sell, but do be careful of scams.
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According to a Gallup poll of favorite investment options, real estate remains at the top where it’s been since 2013, currently at 35%. It has been over 33% since 2016. After dropping by 6% since last year, the popularity of stocks and mutual funds is down to 21%, its lowest since 2012. While the percentage favoring savings accounts and CDs, gold, or bonds has increased slightly, their numbers remain low at 17%, 16%, and 8% respectively.
Even stockowners are now less likely to favor stocks as the best investment, but that doesn’t mean stocks are going away. Stock ownership is still stable at 55%, and hasn’t veered too much from that number since it started falling off during the Great Recession. It may not be the best option, but the number that think stock investment is a good option remains nearly identical to the number that think it’s a bad option.
If you’re interested in investing in real estate, we can help! Call or email us about buying or selling investment property.
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As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), had instituted a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions for Enterprise-backed single-family mortgages. The moratorium was scheduled to end on June 30th, but on June 17th, the FHFA announced that the date will be extended to August 31st. The FHFA plans to continue to monitor the situation and make further adjustments as needed.
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The California Association of Realtors (CAR) released their May sales and price report on June 16th, and the numbers are showing a definite slowdown. Existing single family home sales totalled 238,740 in May, down 13.9% from April and down 41.4% from last May. The median home price was $588,070, a drop of 3% from April and 3.7% from last year. May also saw a year-to-date statewide home sale decrease of 12.9%. The Bay Area seems to have been hit the hardest. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was California home sales falling to the lowest level since the Great Depression.
The good news is that May was probably the worst of it. The market shows signs of recovering, especially buyer demand shooting up from record lows. One county, Del Norte, even reported a year-over-year increase in sales, and 31 reported a year-over-year increase in prices. Interest rates are also down from last year.
Interested in data for your area? You can find the full table of statistics at https://www.car.org/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2020releases/may2020sales, and you can also call or email us for more information.
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It’s no secret that California has a problem with rent prices and rental availability. Which solution to pick remains controversial. Rent control is the most immediate solution, but is a stopgap measure that can potentially do more harm than good over long periods. Building more affordable housing is a more permanent solution, but is a long-term plan with vocal opponents.
Currently, rent control is governed by the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits rent control for housing units with a single title or that were first occupied on or after February 1, 1995. Proposition 10 appeared on the ballot just two years ago, seeking to repeal Costa-Hawkins and give more control to individual cities. The measure didn’t pass. Seeing the response to Prop 10, a new initiative, the Rental Affordability Act, decided to meet opponents halfway. Rather than entirely repeal Costa-Hawkins, this new measure seeks to amend it with a sliding timescale of 15 years, rather than a fixed year of 1995, to prevent the number of homes qualifying for rent control from remaining static.
Increasing the number of available rental units is a more appealing solution. It takes time and effort, though. California’s legislature has already adjusted laws regarding zoning, parking and landlord conduct, but it hasn’t been enough. Builders also need to do their part to make these plans a reality, and residents often oppose plans to build large, multi-family residences that could potentially decrease average home value in the area.
If you have any questions about rent control or finding a rental property or tenant, call or email us. We’d be happy to help!
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As of June 10, while the California housing market has started to recover, it appears that recovery is slowing, not speeding up. California officially entered the recession in February, and we’ve come a long way since then, but there’s still plenty more to go.
Average home sales per day decreased in the second week of June following a modest increase in the first week, and the overall trend has been downward. Pending listings are still going up, but by less than 3% in 3 of the prior 4 weeks before June 10. New listings have been mostly flat. Two-thirds of buyers are expecting to get lower prices than they’re getting, and more of them are backing out because of financial considerations, despite high demand.
On the bright side, sellers are more optimistic. 40% of sellers believe it is a good time to sell, up from 29% in May, though still far below the pre-crisis level of 60% or more. Sellers recognize that while buyers may not have the funds they wanted, they’re still looking to buy. More buyers are applying for mortgages while mortgage forbearance has dropped from almost 1.1 million in mid-April to only 34 thousand in early June, and home showings are finally above the levels in 2019 and still going up.
Recovery has certainly slowed, but we’re going in the right direction. Now is a good time for both buyers and sellers. Call or email us and we’ll discuss business.
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As I’m sure you already know, the lockdowns from COVID-19 have resulted in many workers needing to resort to working from home — potentially as many as 40%. This means that workers want a space in their home to work comfortably, something many homeowners and especially renters don’t have. Spaces not designed to be a home office can be inefficient or distracting, leading to lower productivity, so extra space for a home office is increasingly becoming a priority for buyers’ next purchases.
A survey by Zillow asked people working from home what their current configuration is and how it would affect future purchasing decisions. The survey found that only a third of those working from home have a dedicated home office space, and two-thirds needed to reconfigure existing rooms. Respondents’ top reasons to consider buying a new home were either a dedicated office space or just more space in general, letting other historically popular considerations like location and price fall by the wayside. Even after the pandemic ends, buyers are are looking to make their next purchase futureproof. Sellers and construction companies are also noticing the trend.
Are you also looking for dedicated office space or extra rooms for your next home? Does your own home fit the bill, and you want to sell? Whether you’re buying or selling, we can find a match for you. Call or email us!
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According to a recent poll of readers of the Real Estate journal First Tuesday, the most optimistic recovery date from the current recession is late 2020, with 30% of respondents hopeful for a quick rebound. A quarter of respondents believe that recovery will be tied to a COVID-19 vaccine, which is predicted to arrive no earlier than mid-2021. 45% don’t expect recovery until 2022.
Benjamin Smith of First Tuesday agrees that a COVID-19 vaccine is important to recovery, but warns that there are other aspects at play. Real Estate as a business does depend heavily on in-person interactions, even though much of the work can certainly be done online or via email, and lockdowns have, without a doubt, slowed down business. Smith is careful to note, however, that the market was already on a downturn before COVID-19 hit, merely speeding up and exacerbating an impending recession. Two important factors in the downturn were falling inventory and insufficient construction.
While a vaccine can help open up agents, buyers, and sellers to safely meet up and discuss business, the underlying causes still need to be addressed, and people will need time and government intervention to recover their finances. This places recovery almost certainly later than mid-2021, and very likely further out. Fortunately, low interest rates mean buyer purchasing power will be relatively high once they regain their financial stability, meaning home prices aren’t likely to suffer as long as interest rates remain low.
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Any time your credit report is reviewed, a credit inquiry is automatically added to your report. Your personal credit report lists all these inquiries for two years. There are two main types of credit inquiries: a hard inquiry, also called a hard pull, and a soft inquiry or soft pull. There are also personal credit inquiries.
Applying for credit or doing something that requires a credit check, such as applying for phone service, renting, or possibly taking a job, triggers a hard pull. Establishing business credit for the first time will do this. A hard inquiry reduces your credit score by up to five points, albeit usually for a short time. Sometimes multiple inquiries within a short period, such as looking for the best rates for auto insurance or a mortgage over 30 days, counts as only a single hard inquiry. Be cautious about multiple hard pulls in a short time, though. Lenders can see hard inquiries on your report and tend to interpret this behavior as high risk.
When you receive a pre-approved credit offer, chances are there was a soft inquiry on your credit report. Businesses use these to know your credit score for promotional information, as do banks and lenders to review your account to see if you qualify for new offers. These usually happen without your knowledge, though you can see them on your personal credit score. Fortunately, others cannot see them and they have no effect on your credit score. In addition, although applying for rent usually triggers a hard pull, renters can sometimes request a soft pull themselves to be sent to their landlord to avoid a hard pull. You can call us for more information about requesting a soft pull as a renter.
A personal credit inquiry is how you see all the information about your credit report. Your credit score and all inquiries, hard and soft, are visible to you at any time, and you can request your report for free once per 12 months at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. This is a good idea before applying for credit and also periodically to make sure it’s accurate and up to date. Visit the credit reporting agency’s website if you encounter an error.
As we recover from COVID-19, experts are saying it may benefit the rural real estate market. California Association of Realtors deputy chief economist Jordan Levine explains why. Levine notes that rural housing is generally more affordable, which may become one of the most important decision factors as people are recovering from temporary unemployment and business losses. In addition, more and more businesses are looking at a work-from-home model, which will enable employees to live away from urban commercial centers and not have to commute long distance to work.
Real estate personnel working in rural areas seem to agree. Cindy Young, president of Shasta Association of Realtors, predicted an increase in business since their first virtual meeting after the stay-at-home order. Real estate agent Sandy Dole, who works in Shasta County, didn’t experience any drop at all and is actually on pace to surpass last year.
Despite all this, the outbreak did mean California’s market overall experienced its worst month-to-month decline in over forty years. The crisis isn’t over, even in rural areas like Shasta County. The overall market is expected to be sluggish for the next couple of months, with no solid predictions beyond then. Market declines invariably mean lower prices, at least in some areas, while others perform better.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling, and are looking for a good price on a comfortable rural home, send us a note on our contact form, or give us a call. We are active agents throughout California. At the moment, we are seeing some very attractive properties in Ventura and San Diego counties.
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