Selling Your House During Coronavirus

I’ve been convinced for years that we can sell homes by video, and the coronavirus will present that challenge to us now. If agents can be handy with their phone, a decent representation can be made that should be enough to get buyers to make offers – and we’ll figure out the rest:

Lenders Pulling Back

It wasn’t a surprise to hear that smaller no-name mortgage companies were retreating from the marketplace due to the extreme volatility.

The mortgage business has become dependent upon the Fed’s support to backstop the agency market (Fannie/Freddie), which leaves the non-conforming (jumbo) lenders wondering what they will do with their funded loans in the coming weeks – can they sell them to somebody?

It’s another story when one of the big banks who have been the foundation of the jumbo market, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase, are starting to quiver as well. Seen on the internet this morning:

Several correspondent investors are exiting the business or are no longer accepting new applications due to volatile market conditions. Additionally, many wholesale investors have now fully suspended operations or temporarily revised guidelines, and correspondent jumbo investors are beginning to tighten credit requirements. Investor availability and guidelines are expected to change often as market volatility continues.

Notable non-conforming investor restrictions effective today, 3/27:

Wells Fargo Non-Conforming (Jumbo)

The following transactions will be ineligible on all new locks, relocks and renegotiations:

    • Cash-out refinances
    • Investment properties
    • LTV/CLTVs > 80%

You can’t blame Wells for being more conservative, but let’s hope they and other banks keep the jumbo loans coming.  The jumbo rates – which were about the same as agency rates a couple of weeks ago – have stayed since after the Fed bought enough agency MBS to bring down the conforming rates back into the mid-3s.  The jumbo rate is almost 1% higher:

California Lenders Defer Payments

Lenders won’t report late payments to credit bureaus!  Hat tip to Susie:

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that financial institutions will provide major financial relief for millions of Californians suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Millions of California families will be able to take a sigh of relief,” said Governor Newsom. “These new financial protections will provide relief to California families and serve as a model for the rest of the nation. I thank each of the financial institutions that will provide this relief to millions of Californians who have been hurt financially from COVID-19.”

Governor Newsom secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to protect homeowners and consumers.

Under the Governor’s proposal, Californians who are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for the following relief upon contacting their financial institution:

90-Day Grace Period for Mortgage Payments

Financial institutions will offer, consistent with applicable guidelines, mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19. In addition, those institutions will:

  • Provide borrowers a streamlined process to request a forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation;
  • Confirm approval of and terms of forbearance program; and
  • Provide borrowers the opportunity to request additional relief, as practicable, upon continued showing of hardship due to COVID-19.

No Negative Credit Impacts Resulting from Relief

Financial institutions will not report derogatory tradelines (e.g., late payments) to credit reporting agencies, consistent with applicable guidelines, for borrowers taking advantage of COVID-19-related relief.

Moratorium on Initiating Foreclosure Sales or Evictions

For at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions, consistent with applicable guidelines.

Relief from Fees and Charges

For at least 90 days, financial institutions will waive or refund at least the following for customers who have requested assistance:

  • Mortgage-related late fees; and
  • Other fees, including early CD withdrawals (subject to applicable federal regulations).


Click here for details on how to apply for relief. Loans held by a financial institution may be serviced by another company.

Please note that financial institutions and their servicers are experiencing high volumes of inquiries.

Link to Gav’s Press Release

MLS Allows Video

One of the most insane MLS rules prevents agents from including videos in the remarks.  The MLS police is afraid that agents will slip in their contact information, and buyers will rush to purchase direct from the listing agent – but they can do that anyway.  How hard is it to find a listing agent’s phone number in 2020?

Our MLS is temporarily allowing virtual tours and virtual open houses, but let’s hope it will be a permanent change.  The real estate world is well on the way to eliminating the buyer-agents that provide no value, and those that give good advice don’t have to worry about losing a client to a video message.

In addition, allowing video tours in the remarks would cause more agents to do them!

Showings Dropped Off

Listing agents hire Showingtime to schedule appointments for cooperating agents to show a house for sale.

As of yesterday, California showings were down 55% from the first week of the year, which doesn’t sound so bad for a state that is lockdown.  But next week will probably be worse.

The California Association of Realtors, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Sacramento, has petitioned the governor to change the status of realtors to be essential workers – with stipulations. We can’t apply for unemployment, so there has to be a way for us to keep working.

COVID-19 Hope

Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted.

Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world.

While many epidemiologists are warning of months, or even years, of massive social disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says the data simply don’t support such a dire scenario — especially in areas where reasonable social distancing measures are in place.

“What we need is to control the panic,” he said. In the grand scheme, “we’re going to be fine.”

Here’s what Levitt noticed in China: On Jan. 31, the country had 46 new deaths due to the novel coronavirus, compared with 42 new deaths the day before.

Although the number of daily deaths had increased, the rate of that increase had begun to ease off. In his view, the fact that new cases were being identified at a slower rate was more telling than the number of new cases itself. It was an early sign that the trajectory of the outbreak had shifted.

Think of the outbreak as a car racing down an open highway, he said. Although the car is still gaining speed, it’s not accelerating as rapidly as before.

“This suggests that the rate of increase in the number of deaths will slow down even more over the next week,” Levitt wrote in a report he sent to friends Feb. 1 that was widely shared on Chinese social media. And soon, he predicted, the number of deaths would be decreasing every day.

Three weeks later, Levitt told the China Daily News that the virus’ rate of growth had peaked. He predicted that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China would end up around 80,000, with about 3,250 deaths.

This forecast turned out to be remarkably accurate: As of March 16, China had counted a total of 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths — in a nation of nearly 1.4 billion people where roughly 10 million die every year. The number of newly diagnosed patients has dropped to around 25 a day, with no cases of community spread reported since Wednesday.

Read full article here:

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