Winstanley Report

This has to be the most Zillow views we’ve had on a listing during the first day on the market.

Between the two copies of the video tour (one is non-branded), there have been 159 views.

The house has been shown four times in person.  Housing is essential for some.

Everyone is a looker though. Are people willing to buy? It is a humble environment now.

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

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:

E-Notary……Not Yet

E-notary companies are out there….can we close a sale with one now?

There still needs to be at least one personal interaction with a stranger to be able to finance the purchase of a house in San Diego County, says the boss at First American Title today:

Good morning – sorry, the county recorders are still not accepting a document notarized remotely. The county still requires wet signatures and original notary seal.

Cash buyers wouldn’t need a signature notarized if purchasing as individuals, and not in a trust.

Serological Testing

Yesterday, President Cuomo mentioned serological testing, which could end this crisis sooner than we think.  Donna and I both had a wicked run with a virus in January with symptoms that sound similar to the Covid-19, and even if it was only a cousin, maybe the antibodies will ward off the real thing. If so, I’d like to get back to work!

Just how many people actually have Covid-19? How long will it be before we can safely begin to ease social distancing? And is this a one-off crisis or are we now facing the threat of repeated waves of coronavirus pandemics on an annual basis?

These are all questions to which scientists around the globe are racing to answer through serological testing – detecting tell-tale antibodies in the blood to identify the real number of people in a population who have ever come in contact with the virus. Over the coming months, the results will determine everything from how long society’s shutdown needs to be, to evaluating the effectiveness of the new vaccines on the horizon.

Right now, the NHS tests for Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – through a diagnostic technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which detects the virus’ genetic material in oral or nasal swabs. It’s highly effective, but it only returns a positive result when the virus is still present in the body.

Serological testing will tell us how many people crossed paths with the coronavirus weeks or even months ago – sometimes without knowing – a figure which epidemiologists modelling the spread of Covid-19, and governments need to know to make accurate public health decisions.

“You’ll have heard [the UK’s chief scientific advisor] Patrick Vallance talk about herd immunity as a useful outcome if enough people have had the infection,” says Andrew Freedman, consultant in infectious diseases at Cardiff University. “That’s something you can determine if you do serologic testing on enough representative people across the country. If you find that 60 per cent or more of the population have got antibodies to the virus, so they’ve already had the infection, this would tell you that herd immunity might be successful and it’ll stop spreading. So then the government could stop the social distancing and isolation precautions at the moment.”

As the wait for new drugs for Covid-19 goes on, serological testing is also likely to be used to identify people who have recovered from the virus, who may be asked to donate their blood as a form of emergency treatment for elderly or vulnerable people that are acutely ill. This is a treatment idea for virulent infections which dates back to the Spanish influenza, more than a century ago.

“Serology can be used to identify people with high levels of neutralising antibodies that can kill the virus,” says Theel. “Their plasma would be tested, collected, screened for HIV and hepatitis, and then administered to ill patients. The idea being these antibodies could quickly activate and kill the virus in those sick people.”

Read the full article here:

Could We Have A Quick Recovery?

Other countries have bounced back in six weeks. Could it happen to us?

BEIJING — The grocery stores were brimming with shoppers and produce. Around the corner, a line was forming outside a stall selling pillowy white steamed buns.

The gray, brick-lined alleys of this old imperial capital, deserted several weeks ago, were congested again by newly licensed drivers struggling to park their outsize Audis.

I knew then: Beijing was slowly, unmistakably, returning to normal.

Six weeks earlier, I had watched China shut itself down as the coronavirus epidemic first exploded in Wuhan, and then spilled across the country and beyond. For my work, I traveled around China, down empty boulevards, through empty airports, in empty train cars. I saw China’s whole economic machinery, from the curbside noodle shops to sprawling tech campuses, clank to a halt as the government pulled out every stop to contain the virus’s spread.

To help the nationwide social-mapping effort — and, I suspect, feed the government’s ever-growing appetite for personal data — I begrudgingly gave my mobile number to government workers at every train station, checked in via smartphone app to enter office buildings and recited my passport number just to eat at a rare restaurant that remained open.

By mid-February, the clampdown tightened further.

Checkpoints were erected in a grid layout at every intersection in central Beijing. Residential neighborhoods were sealed after 10 p.m. Like all travelers arriving from out of town after a brief excursion, I was placed in quarantine at home for 14 days.

I emerged in recent days, precisely at a moment when life was returning to Chinese streets while much of the West seemed to be spiraling into panic and chaos. For countless others and me, the tilting scales raised the question: Are China’s strict measures a model for the rest of the world?

The truth is, I don’t know.

What I have seen is that success in containing the epidemic has not been exclusive to authoritarian systems; it has been used in democratic governments in Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea that also appear to be heading for quick recoveries.


Coronavirus Lockdown & Real Estate

Happy Lockdown, with no end in sight!

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order marks the first statewide mandatory restrictions in the United States to help combat the outbreak. It went into effect at midnight Thursday, meaning Californians should not leave home except for essential things such as food, prescriptions, health care and commuting to jobs considered crucial.

The restrictions will remain in place until further notice and come a day after Newsom warned that more than half the state is projected to be infected by the virus in two months.

“This is a moment where we need some straight talk,” Newsom told reporters. “As individuals and as a community, we need to do more to meet this moment.”

The order will not be enforced by law enforcement, he added.

“I don’t believe the people of California need to be told through law enforcement that it’s appropriate just to home-isolate, protect themselves,” Newsom said. “We are confident that the people of the state of California will abide by it and do the right thing.”

What will it mean for our local real estate market?

Our title and escrow companies are functioning (which might be case-by-case), and the county recorder’s office is accepting documents.  Those electronic filings are coming in handy now – remember our tour of the process at First American Title?  Link to Youtube.

The banks are open, but that doesn’t mean that mortgage companies will be funding loans.  But we should be able to close sales where the buyers are paying cash.

Sellers will be reluctant to agree to any discounts requested by buyers on deals already in escrow, so some of them will fall out.  Few will close for prices that are way under market, and maybe none – sellers would rather wait and get more money later this year (which will be the common perception).

Let’s figure that most of the existing escrows will find a way to close, either now or later.

What about new deals?

Are sellers willing to price their homes so attractively that buyers will make deals based on video alone?  How many listings will have a video presentation that makes buyers comfortable enough to make an offer that is close to list price?  Not many.

Sales will slow to a trickle over the next month or two.

Then at some magical moment, the coronavirus threat will be declared over, and we’ll get back to it.  Kayla was listening to the D-E broadcast yesterday, and Howard Lorber recalled the NYC market after 9/11.  He said that Manhattan sales came to a standstill for the rest of the year, but in January 2002, their market took off like a rocket.

There will be a scramble by the pent-up buyers AND sellers who really wanted to make a deal earlier, and who will want an early piece of the action.  The naysayers will somewhat-reluctantly fall in line, and we’ll be back in business.

Will sellers need to discount?  Here’s a likely scenario:

Buyer: I want a discount.

Seller: No, the scare is over!

Buyer: But there are lower comps now.

Seller: The coronavirus caused those.  The ‘rona is over!

Buyer: I’m only buying if you discount the price.

Seller: No problem, step aside while I wait to get my price.

Could we see a surge of inventory once the immediate threat slows?  Will the scare cause more people to sell – especially the older homeowners?  It’s doubtful – after sitting at home for 1-2 months straight, the older homeowners are going to give up and pack it in.  To have to re-ignite the painful ideas of finding a suitable home and packing up all the stuff will be even more uncomfortable.  If there is a surge of older Californians not surviving the virus, I guess you could make the case that a few more inherited properties will come to market.  But probably not rushed – a flatter curve.

Could this turn out better than expected?

The politicians’ rush to overreact is understandable, and they want to be heroes in the end.  The numbers in China are already subsiding – could we get lucky and our strong reactions combined with our suburban lifestyles end up minimizing the impact?

From today’s WaPo:

We also come into contact with fewer people when we commute. According to the 2017 American Community Survey, more than 80 percent of Americans either work from home or commute alone by car. In Beijing and X’ian, on the other hand, only 30 percent of commuters travel by car. Italians similarly use public transit much more frequently than do most Americans. A paper from the Brookings Institution says that the average resident of Milan, the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, takes 350 trips a year on public transit compared to 17 for the average resident of San Diego. It’s a lot easier to get sick from the sneezing person next to you on the bus than it is driving by yourself.

These data suggest why New York seems especially hard hit by the pandemic. New York is one of the most densely populated places anywhere, with nearly 28,000 people per square mile. (Even Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus originated, has only about 3,200 people per square mile.) And most of those New Yorkers don’t drive to work; New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority says that more than 80 percent of rush-hour commuters to the central business district in Manhattan take transit. With a few exceptions in Staten Island and the fringes of the outer boroughs, New Yorkers live, work, commute and shop in much closer proximity to other people than almost anywhere else in the United States. It’s no wonder the virus is spreading rapidly there and in the commuter suburbs.

For now, our lives will be suspended, and the real estate market will wait it out.  If there are going to be any deals, they will be in the next 30 days – but don’t expect much.  For sellers, it’s too easy to look ahead.

Foreclosures Halted

They won’t foreclose on you, but your credit score will be affected. From the AP:

Certain borrowers nervous about missed house payments got some relief as two major government backers of mortgages have said they’re stopping foreclosure work for the next 60 days.

The Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae announced moves to help out borrowers behind on house payments as part of effort to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Loan servers of FHA and Fannie Mae loans have been directed to stop starting new foreclosure actions; suspend foreclosures in progress; and not evicting residents of foreclosed properties with loans backed by these agencies. Borrowers in financial trouble are encouraged to contact their loan servicer to inquire about various relief programs.

“Today’s actions will allow households who have an FHA-insured mortgage to meet the challenges of COVID-19 without fear of losing their homes, and help steady market concerns,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. “The health and safety of the American people is of the utmost importance and the halting of all foreclosure actions and evictions for the next 60 days will provide homeowners with some peace of mind during these trying times.”


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