How To Safely List Your Home During COVID-19

If you’re worried about listing your home during the pandemic, or if you want to take advantage of the increased inventory and buy a new home, there is a protocol for doing so safely, even in heavily impacted areas of California.

You should discuss with your agent the things that can be done to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some things you can do while others your agent will be better able to do. You can leave interior doors open prior to a showing to ensure visitors don’t need to open doors. Also, you can open windows before and after showings to let in fresh air.

In addition to opening windows for a showing, use disinfecting wipes or spray to clean surfaces that you expect may have been touched frequently, such as countertops, cabinets, light switches, and door knobs.

You and your visitors should wash hands or use hand sanitizer, wear masks or other protective face covering, and practice social distancing. Any disposable protective gear should be discarded when leaving.

The listing agent can discuss the precautions with the buyer and/or buyers’ agent. They can discuss taking care to avoid touching surfaces as much as possible and other safety measures, as well as check to make sure everyone is symptom-free.

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) provides a poster guiding the actions of visitors to minimize risk, which should be posted near the entry. CAR also provides a form called the Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration (PEAD) which requires all involved to certify that they are aware of the safety requirements. That form should be signed by the agents, seller, and any visitors.

Be sure to call or email us for more information about safely showing property during the pandemic or regarding other aspects of buying and selling in difficult times. We each have over 25 years of experience in good times and in bad.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/farm-health-precautions-when-listing-your-home/72565/

New LEED guidelines established for COVID-19

In order to help combat COVID-19, the U.S. Green Building Council has established new LEED safety guidelines. The new recommendations cover layout, materials, air quality, and smart technology, and are focused on senior care facilities.

The guidelines suggest that facilities renovate to create more single-occupancy rooms. Flexible layouts and multipurpose rooms can help to address both current and future concerns without needing additional space. Uncoated copper alloys are best for knobs and rails, as the copper alloys have an antimicrobial factor. Curtains should be replaced with glass or plexiglass. Countertops and floors should use nonporous or less porous materials such as quartz and Corian for countertops and porcelain, vinyl, or wood for floors. Ventilation is of utmost importance, particularly in bathrooms, and should be maintained regularly. Touchless features go a long way, such as automatic doors, touchless faucets, and voice activated lights.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

More: https://magazine.realtor/home-and-design/feature/article/2020/07/elder-care-updates-to-counter-viral-spread

Living with parents is the norm for young adults

During the months of March, April, and May, approximately 2.9 million adults in the US moved in with parents or grandparents. Many of these were college students whose classes were cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic, but the enormous spike during those months is also a result of the economic downturn. Young adults aren’t able to justify the expense of living on their own during these times, even if they are able to afford it, which many aren’t.

An adult living with their parents has been stigmatized in the US, seen as the mark of a lazy or irresponsible person. Current events are demonstrating that this isn’t necessarily the case. And the numbers also disagree — in fact, it first became the most common living arrangement for young adults all the way back in 2014. This isn’t a new trend, and it’s not a bad thing. The upward trend may have started with economic imbalances, likely the Great Recession in the late 2000s, but this serves only to obscure the fact that non-economic factors are also at play. More people are going to college and graduate school. Couples are marrying later and having their first child later. The timeline of a young adult’s life has been shifting for nearly 15 years. Of course they would be buying homes later as well.

Photo by Nikola Saliba on Unsplash

More: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/07/pandemic-young-adults-living-with-parents/613723/

Coronavirus exposes the wealth gap

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.

Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

More: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brendarichardson/2020/06/22/coronavirus-housing-rebound-exposes-the-wealth-divide/

Forbearances down overall, but not for private loans

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.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

More: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/19/coronavirus-mortgage-bailout-shrinks-further-but-bank-held-loans-are-faring-worse.html

Scams are an increasing threat to online real estate

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.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

More: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/15/new-pandemic-concern-digital-real-estate-scams/

Foreclosure and eviction moratorium extended

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.

Photo by Mangopear creative on Unsplash

More: https://www.fhfa.gov/Media/PublicAffairs/Pages/FHFA-Extends-Foreclosure-and-Eviction-Moratorium-6172020.aspx

Impact of COVID-19 on current market

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.

Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

More: https://www.car.org/knowledge/pubs/newsletters/newsline/covid61020

Housing Recovery Will Take Both Time and Action

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.

Photo by Jens Behrmann on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/the-votes-are-in-housing-market-slated-for-a-late-recovery/71917/

COVID-19: A boon for the rural real estate market?

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.

Photo by Karol Kaczorek on Unsplash (cropped)