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