Kayla flew home from Manhattan this morning on Delta – there were only 20 people on the plane!
Her Douglas Elliman offices are closed through March 31st and probably longer. Hopefully she didn’t bring the bug back with her, but it’s better than her catching it there and having to cope with it alone.
She loves being in Manhattan, and plans to go back, of course.
But what will the market be like for newer agents everywhere?
The big, successful agents will use this off-time to prepare additional marketing materials, and be ready to go once the virus is done. We’ll have 1-3 months of pent-up supply and demand, so we’ll try to squeeze the whole 6-month selling season into 60 days. The crafty experienced agents will be glad to facilitate those sales, but there won’t be enough to go around for everyone.
I’m guessing that we will probably sell 20% to 30% fewer homes this year, and it could be less. The sales will drop off long before sellers think about dumping on price, and because the virus isn’t a permanent change in the marketplace, it will be too easy for sellers to wait it out instead. It will be tough on every agent who is on the edge.
Somebody said today that they expect to see big price declines and foreclosures in the next 2-3 months, but that’s not happening. The moratoriums are in place, and homeowners who can’t make payments will get as much time as they need. It’s more likely that we will experience the Big Stall-Out, with the market still airborne and just waiting for the engine to kick back on.
Here are tips for those who don’t regularly work from home:
Prepare and Get Job-Comfortable
Get ready for work every morning like you are going to physically go into work. Dress up, do your hair — whatever you’d normally do. This puts you in a professional mindset. Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock — that means get off the couch, and definitely out of bed.
Set Ground Rules With Others
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. Children need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn’t mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that’s how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that’s fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you’re home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.
What About The Kids?
If you are working from home with kids in tow, you’ll need to make a plan for education and entertainment. Stock up on books and puzzles. Also, it’s OK to use streaming services (here are good recommendations for kid-appropriate content).
Repurpose Your Commute
A major perk of working from home is ditching the commute. Use this time in the morning for a workout, self-renewal, or family time.
Create Lists And Plan Your Day
Every morning, create a list of what you will deliver by the end of the day. If it’s helpful, scribble these down the night before so you can dive straight into work in the morning. If you don’t have a physical notepad handy, use the “Google Keep” in G Suite. Keep offers a variety of tools for taking notes, including text, lists, images, and audio.
Stay Off Social Media
Social media is designed to make it easy for you to open and browse quickly. To counteract your social networks’ ease of use during work hours, remove them from your browser shortcuts or log out of every account. You might even consider working primarily in a private or an incognito browser window. This ensures you stay signed out of all your accounts and each web search you conduct doesn’t autocomplete the word you’re typing.
We don’t talk on the phone as much these days, and if working from home requires phone calls in place of your regular face-to-face meetings, then warm up first. Make a couple of less-important calls, or at least talk out loud for a minute before making the most-important calls. We call it, “getting the marbles out of your mouth”.
Show Your Face
When possible, use video over the standard conference call to help create more interactions and avoid loneliness. Checkout video-conferencing resources such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Skype, or Lifesize. For those unexpectedly working from home who are also trying to reduce face-to-face contact, set up a video call with your colleagues or manager once a week to check in.
Bring The Outdoors In
If you do not have any greens in your designated work from home location, consider adding some indoor plants to create a more inviting and creative space. Plus, they make your home’s air healthier!
Don’t get stuck at your computer for long lengths of time – schedule breaks. Walk around the house, or around the block – get some fresh air!
Listen to Music That Inspires
During the week, music is the soundtrack to your career (cheesy, but admit it, it’s true). And at work, the best playlists are diverse playlists — you can listen to music that matches the energy of the project you’re working on. Video game soundtracks are excellent at this. In the game itself, this lyric-free music is designed to help you focus; it only makes sense that it would help you focus on your work as well.
Stay Out of The Kitchen
When you’re in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a really nice breakfast and lunch for yourself, chopping and cooking included. Don’t use precious minutes making your food the day of work — cook it the night before. And don’t let the virus be a reason why you add 10-15 pounds!
The California Association of Realtors published their coronavirus addendum/amendment today.
Those with an existing contract aren’t obligated to sign it, but they mentioned the ‘Force Majeure Clause’, which is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, plague, or an event described by the legal term act of God(hurricane, flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.
I did whip through our standard contract, but didn’t find the words “force majeure” anywhere in the text, but it is probably in the Civil Code. In practice, most force majeure clauses do not excuse a party’s non-performance entirely, but only suspend it for the duration of the force majeure.
The CAR form suggests a 30-day extension, but whatever works for you. If the good-faith deposit is at risk, they are asking the sellers nicely to give it back to the buyers if they can’t qualify due to COVID-19 issues.
We’re doing fine here at headquarters – how about you?
We’ve primarily worked out of the house for the last 17 years, so we aren’t experiencing any disruption just because we’re stuck at home. We’re still having two listings being prepped for market, and haven’t had any escrows fall out yet. So far, so good.
Our boss suggested that we don’t do open houses for the foreseeable future, and to use gloves and sanitizer for individual showings. Tours via FaceTime or Skype are encouraged as well.
Here’s a snapshot of my hotsheet this morning – an equal compliment of new listings, price changes, solds, and new pendings (six each):
The volume will be light, but as long as we keep seeing new pendings, the market is working!
From this twitter thread written on March 12th. We are about 7-10 days behind them:
The following thread is taken from an Italian citizen.
As they put it: “To the rest of the world, you have no idea what’s coming.”
As I think everybody knows, Italy is on quarantine because of the coronavirus outbreak. This situation is bad, but what’s worse is seeing the rest of the world behaving as if it isn’t going to happen to them. We know what you’re thinking because we were in your place too.
Let’s see how things developed…
STAGE 1: You know that coronavirus exists, and the first cases begin to appear in your country. Well, nothing to worry about, it’s just a bad flu! I’m not 75+yo so what could possibly happen to me? I’m safe, everybody is overreacting, what’s the need to go out with masks and stock toilet paper? I’m going to live my life as usual, there’s no need to freak out.
STAGE 2: The number of cases begins to be significant. They declare “red zone” and quarantine one or two small cities where they found the first cases and a lot of people were infected (Feb 22nd). Well that’s sad and somewhat worrisome but they’re taking care of it so nothing to panic about. There are some deaths but they’re all old people so the media is just creating panic for views, how shameful. People lead their life as usual.. I’m not going to stop going out and meeting my friends am I? It’s not going to get me. Everybody’s fine here.
STAGE 3: The number of cases is rapidly going up. They almost doubled in one day. There’s more deaths. They declare red zones and quarantine the 4 regions where the majority of cases are registered (March 7). In Italy 25% of the county is under quarantine. Schools and universities are closed in these areas but bars, work places, restaurants and so on are still open. The decree gets released by some newspaper before it should……so around 10k people from the red zone escape from the area that same night to return to their homes in the rest of Italy (this will be important later).
Most of the population of the remaining 75% of Italy still does what it always does. They still don’t realize the seriousness of the situation. Everywhere you turn people advise to wash your hands and limit going out, large groups are forbidden, every 5 minutes on TV they remind you of these rules. But it still hasn’t settled in people’s mind.
STAGE 4: The number of cases is heavily increasing. Schools and universities are closed everywhere for at least a month. It’s a national health emergency. Hospitals are at capacity, entire units are cleared to make space for coronavirus patients. There aren’t enough doctors and nurses. They’re calling retired ones and those in their last 2 years of university. There’s no shifts any more, just work as much as you can. Of course doctors and nurses are getting infected, spreading it to their families. There’s too many cases of pneumonia, too many people who need ICU and not enough places for everyone.
At this point is like being at war: doctors have to choose who to treat based on their survival chance. That means that the elderly and trauma/stroke patients can’t get treated because corona cases have priority. There’s not enough resources for everybody so they have to be distributed for best outcome. I wish I was joking but it’s literally what has happened.
People have died because there wasn’t any more space. I have a doctor friend who called me devastated because he had to let 3 people die that day. Nurses crying because they see people dying and can’t do anything aside from offering some oxygen. A friend’s relative died yesterday of corona because they couldn’t treat him. It’s chaos, the system is collapsing. Coronavirus and the crisis it’s provoking is all you hear about everywhere.
STAGE 5: Remember the 10k idiots who ran from the red zone to the rest of Italy? Well, the entire country has to be declared under quarantine (March 9). The goal is to delay the spreading of the virus as much as possible. People can go to work, do grocery shopping, go to the pharmacy, and all businesses are still open because otherwise the economy would collapse (it already is), but you can’t move from your commune unless you have a valid reason. Now there’s fear, you see a lot of people with masks and gloves around but there are still are people who think that they’re invincible, who go to restaurants in large groups, hang out with friends to drink and so on. Next step.
STAGE 6: Two days later, it’s announced that all (most) businesses are closed: Bars, restaurants, shopping centers, all kinds of shops etc. Everything except supermarkets and pharmacies. You can move around only if you have certification with you. The certification is an official document where you declare your name, where you’re coming from, where you’re going and what for. There are a lot of police check points. If you’re found outside without a valid reason you risk a fine up to €206. If you’re a known positive patient you risk from 1 to 12 years of jail for homicide.
FINAL THOUGHTS: That’s what the situation is like now today as of the March 12th. Keep in mind that it all happened in around 2 weeks… 5 DAYS FROM STAGE 3 TO TODAY. The rest of the world apart from Italy, China and Korea is just now beginning to reach other stages, so let me tell you this: You have no idea what’s coming to get you. I know because 2 weeks ago I was the one who had no idea and though it wasn’t bad. But it is.
And not because the virus alone is particularly dangerous or deadly, but for all the consequences it brings. It’s hard to see all these countries act like it’s not coming and not taking the precautions that are necessary for the well-being of its citizens while they still can. Please if you’re reading this try to act in your best interest. This problem isn’t going to solve itself by ignoring it. Just wondering how many undiscovered cases there might be in America alone is scary, and they’re in for a big, big trouble because of how their country is run.
Our government for once did a good job I must say. The actions taken were drastic but necessary, and this may be the only way to limit the spreading. It’s working in China so we hope it will work here too (it’s already working in some of the first red zones which were quarantined before everybody else). They’re taking measures to protect us citizens such as probably suspending mortgage payments for next months, help for shop owners who were obligated to close and so on.
I realize that these takes are really difficult, if not impossible, to take in some countries, and it’s really worrying to think about what it could mean in global scale. I wonder if this pandemic will be a turning point in our society. If there are cases where you live, then the virus is spreading, and you’re maybe 1-2 weeks behind us. But you’ll get to our point eventually. PLEASE take any precaution you can take. Don’t act like it’s not going to get you. If you can, STAY HOME.
Jonny Blue, a 33-year-old physical therapist and avid surfer from Encinitas, was seriously bummed Friday night. He saw reports across the country of people hoarding toilet paper in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and one of his good friends had a difficult time finding diapers and essential supplies for his kids at a nearby store.
So on Saturday morning Blue took a cardboard sign bearing the simple request — “Share your toilet paper” — and camped out on the corner of El Camino Real and Encinitas Blvd.
“It just inspired me to remind people, listen, if you have a lot of something that probably means there are people who probably don’t have very much of it, because you took it all,” Blue said. “So sharing it is probably a good thing to keep in mind.”
The response was immediate and positive, with motorists honking horns in support. Drivers stopped to drop off rolls of toilet paper and, just as quickly, Blue would hand them off in an impromptu TP stock exchange.
“This guy came here and said he just ran out and was going to a bunch of stores and couldn’t find any,” Blue said as cars whizzed by. “Somebody had given me some so I gave it to him. He was stoked.
“He was like, ‘Do you want me to pay you?’ I said, ‘No, man. Somebody gave it to me. Take it.”
A moment later, a driver in a white pickup truck slowed down just enough to toss out a roll to Blue’s burgeoning bundle.
“People are loving it,” Blue said. “People are honking, smiling, laughing. It’s actually been good because it’s actually been kind of a rough time right now.”
The run on toilet paper and other items such as hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes has led local grocery stores and national chains such as Target and WalMart to limit the amounts shoppers can purchase at one time. Last week,three women in a supermarket in Australiagot into a hair-pulling brawl over toilet paper.
Blue opened his fledgling Robin Hood enterprise at 9 a.m. and, while taking a break at 2 p.m., said he would resume for a couple more hours later in the afternoon.
“I think people want a sense of community,” Blue said. “When things are really challenging, people are looking to band together and be unified. It feels like I kind of struck on a common theme where people were thinking, ‘Why are people hoarding toilet paper?’ Blue said.
“It’s a simple thing but it’s something that’s really tangible and really affects people’s lives, and when people saw my sign it really resonated with them.”
Blue said he planned to return to his post Sunday.
“I just want to encourage everyone to be better,” he said. “Difficult times can reveal us to ourselves and help us see ourselves more clearly.”
The coronavirus is having a mixed impact on the housing market. It’s decreasing buyer traffic somewhat—although in still relatively low numbers—but it’s also not deterring some home buyers and sellers from taking advantage of the lowest mortgage rates in history, shows NAR’s survey, which is based on responses from more than 2,500 real estate professionals.
Sixteen percent of real estate pros say they’ve seen a reduction in buyer interest in their market since the onset of the coronavirus in the U.S. In California, 21% of members reported a decrease in buyer interest, and 19% of members said the same in Washington.
“Given that a home transaction is a major commitment, the uncertainties on how the economy will play out and the spread of the virus itself are barriers to home buying and selling,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The stock market crash is no doubt raising economic anxieties, while the coronavirus brings fear of contact with strangers. At the same time, the dramatic fall in interest rates may induce some potential buyers to take advantage of the better affordability conditions. It is too early to assess the likely impact as to whether lower interest rates can overcome the economic and health anxieties.”
At least in the short term, Yun predicts home sales to be down about 10% compared to what they could have been due to the spread of the coronavirus.
One movement that could lessen its impact, however, is the dip in mortgage rates and its effect on buyers to move ahead with a purchase. More than one-third of members said that their clients are excited by the lower mortgage rates.
Real estate pros credit the lower rates for prompting the majority of home sellers to not make a change in the listing of their home, the survey shows. They want to take advantage of the lower rates on the buying side.
In some areas, the number of home sellers is rising. In California, 12% of members said the number of sellers is increasing because of the desire to take advantage of lower interest rates upon moving, according to NAR’s survey. Nine percent of real estate pros nationwide also reported a higher number of homeowners wanting to sell for this reason. Only 3% of sellers nationwide have decided to remove their home from the market and refinance into a lower mortgage rate so they can remain in their home.
Patrick Ayescue: Leading outbreak response and surveillance. Epidemiologist.
Chaz Langelier: UCSF Infectious Disease doc
Below are essentially direct quotes from the panelists. Bracketed are the few things that are not quotes.
At this point, we are past containment. Containment is basically futile. Our containment efforts won’t reduce the number who get infected in the US.
Now we’re just trying to slow the spread, to help healthcare providers deal with the demand peak. In other words, the goal of containment is to “flatten the curve”, to lower the peak of the surge of demand that will hit healthcare providers. And to buy time, in hopes a drug can be developed.
How many in the community already have the virus? No one knows.
We are moving from containment to care.
We in the US are currently where at where Italy was a week ago. We see nothing to say we will be substantially different.
40-70% of the US population will be infected over the next 12-18 months. After that level you can start to get herd immunity. Unlike flu this is entirely novel to humans, so there is no latent immunity in the global population.
[We used their numbers to work out a guesstimate of deaths— indicating about 1.5 million Americans may die. The panelists did not disagree with our estimate. This compares to seasonal flu’s average of 50K Americans per year. Assume 50% of US population, that’s 160M people infected. With 1% mortality rate that’s 1.6M Americans die over the next 12-18 months.]
The fatality rate is in the range of 10X flu.
This assumes no drug is found effective and made available.
The death rate varies hugely by age. Over age 80 the mortality rate could be 10-15%. [See chart by age Signe found online]
Don’t know whether COVID-19 is seasonal but if it is and subsides over the summer, it is likely to roar back in fall as the 1918 flu did
I can only tell you two things definitively. Definitively it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And we’ll be dealing with this for the next year at least. Our lives are going to look different for the next year.
What should we do now? What are you doing for your family?
Appears one can be infectious before being symptomatic. We don’t know how infectious before symptomatic, but know that highest level of virus prevalence coincides with symptoms. We currently think folks are infectious 2 days before through 14 days after onset of symptoms (T-2 to T+14 onset).
How long does the virus last? On surfaces, best guess is 4-20 hours depending on surface type (maybe a few days) but still no consensus on this
The virus is very susceptible to common anti-bacterial cleaning agents: bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol-based.
Avoid concerts, movies, crowded places.
We have cancelled business travel.
Do the basic hygiene, eg hand washing and avoiding touching face.
Stockpile your critical prescription medications. Many pharma supply chains run through China. Pharma companies usually hold 2-3 months of raw materials, so may run out given the disruption in China’s manufacturing.
Pneumonia shot might be helpful. Not preventative of COVID-19, but reduces your chance of being weakened, which makes COVID-19 more dangerous.
Get a flu shot next fall. Not preventative of COVID-19, but reduces your chance of being weakened, which makes COVID-19 more dangerous.
We would say “Anyone over 60 stay at home unless it’s critical”. CDC toyed with idea of saying anyone over 60 not travel on commercial airlines.
We at UCSF are moving our “at-risk” parents back from nursing homes, etc. to their own homes. Then are not letting them out of the house. The other members of the family are washing hands the moment they come in.
Three routes of infection
Hand to mouth / face
Fecal oral route
What if someone is sick?
If someone gets sick, have them stay home and socially isolate. There is very little you can do at a hospital that you couldn’t do at home. Most cases are mild. But if they are old or have lung or cardio-vascular problems, read on.
If someone gets quite sick who is old (70+) or with lung or cardio-vascular problems, take them to the ER.
There is no accepted treatment for COVID-19. The hospital will give supportive care (eg IV fluids, oxygen) to help you stay alive while your body fights the disease. ie to prevent sepsis.
If someone gets sick who is high risk (eg is both old and has lung/cardio-vascular problems), you can try to get them enrolled for “compassionate use” of Remdesivir, a drug that is in clinical trial at San Francisco General and UCSF, and in China. Need to find a doc there in order to ask to enroll. Remdesivir is an anti-viral from Gilead that showed effectiveness against MERS in primates and is being tried against COVID-19. If the trials succeed it might be available for next winter as production scales up far faster for drugs than for vaccines. [More I found online.]
Why is the fatality rate much higher for older adults?
Your immune system declines past age 50
Fatality rate tracks closely with “co-morbidity”, ie the presence of other conditions that compromise the patient’s hearth, especially respiratory or cardio-vascular illness. These conditions are higher in older adults.
Risk of pneumonia is higher in older adults.
What about testing to know if someone has COVID-19?
Bottom line, there is not enough testing capacity to be broadly useful. Here’s why.
Currently, there is no way to determine what a person has other than a PCR test. No other test can yet distinguish “COVID-19 from flu or from the other dozen respiratory bugs that are circulating”.
A Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test can detect COVID-19’s RNA. However they still don’t have confidence in the test’s specificity, ie they don’t know the rate of false negatives.
The PCR test requires kits with reagents and requires clinical labs to process the kits.
While the kits are becoming available, the lab capacity is not growing.
The leading clinical lab firms, Quest and Labcore have capacity to process 1000 kits per day. For the nation.
Expanding processing capacity takes “time, space, and equipment.” And certification. ie it won’t happen soon.
UCSF and UCBerkeley have donated their research labs to process kits. But each has capacity to process only 20-40 kits per day. And are not clinically certified.
Novel test methods are on the horizon, but not here now and won’t be at any scale to be useful for the present danger.
How well is society preparing for the impact?
Local hospitals are adding capacity as we speak. UCSF’s Parnassus campus has erected “triage tents” in a parking lot. They have converted a ward to “negative pressure” which is needed to contain the virus. They are considering re-opening the shuttered Mt Zion facility.
If COVID-19 affected children then we would be seeing mass departures of families from cities. But thankfully now we know that kids are not affected.
School closures are one the biggest societal impacts. We need to be thoughtful before we close schools, especially elementary schools because of the knock-on effects. If elementary kids are not in school then some hospital staff can’t come to work, which decreases hospital capacity at a time of surging demand for hospital services.
Public Health systems are prepared to deal with short-term outbreaks that last for weeks, like an outbreak of meningitis. They do not have the capacity to sustain for outbreaks that last for months. Other solutions will have to be found.
What will we do to handle behavior changes that can last for months?
Many employees will need to make accommodations for elderly parents and those with underlying conditions and immune-suppressed.
Kids home due to school closures
[Dr. DeRisi had to leave the meeting for a call with the governor’s office. When he returned we asked what the call covered.] The epidemiological models the state is using to track and trigger action. The state is planning at what point they will take certain actions. ie what will trigger an order to cease any gatherings of over 1000 people.
Where do you find reliable news?
The John Hopkins Center for Health Security site which posts daily updates. The site says you can sign up to receive a daily newsletter on COVID-19 by email. [I tried and the page times out due to high demand. After three more tries I was successful in registering for the newsletter.]
The New York Times is good on scientific accuracy.
Observations on China
Unlike during SARS, China’s scientists are publishing openly and accurately on COVID-19.
While China’s early reports on incidence were clearly low, that seems to trace to their data management systems being overwhelmed, not to any bad intent.
Wuhan has 4.3 beds per thousand while US has 2.8 beds per thousand. Wuhan built 2 additional hospitals in 2 weeks. Even so, most patients were sent to gymnasiums to sleep on cots.
Early on no one had info on COVID-19. So China reacted in a way unique modern history, except in wartime.
Every few years there seems another: SARS, Ebola, MERS, H1N1, COVID-19. Growing strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Are we in the twilight of a century of medicine’s great triumph over infectious disease?
“We’ve been in a back and forth battle against viruses for a million years.”
But it would sure help if every country would shut down their wet markets.
As with many things, the worst impact of COVID-19 will likely be in the countries with the least resources, eg Africa. See article on Wired magazine on sequencing of virus from Cambodia.
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