Coronavirus: Housing Providers FAQs

Housing providers have special considerations when it comes to their residents. How they can protect them? What precautions should they take? How they can insure the building is protected and sustainable. This FAQ answers those questions.

What properties are covered by the federal eviction moratorium?

All rental properties are covered by the CDC notice(link is external). NAR has published a one-page summary(link is external) of the order issued by the CDC. It does not apply to residential properties in locations with an eviction moratorium that provides the “same or greater level of public-health protection that the requirements” of the order. It also does not apply to American Samoa.

When did the federal eviction moratorium begin?

The moratorium began on September 4, 2020. After that date,  a housing provider may not evict for failure to pay, any tenant who submits a signed attestation, per the Notice through December 31, 2020.

Is rent that accrues during the eviction moratorium forgiven?

No: The moratorium prohibits housing providers from evicting, but does not forgive the rent that is due. In fact, for tenants who have attested and received the eviction moratorium, a property owner or agent may charge penalties, late fees and interest, per the lease.

How can the government do this? Isn’t it a 5th Amendment takings?

The order by the CDC is based under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, and is designed to “prevent the further spread of COVID-19.” Legal challenges are anticipated.

Is there an appropriate way to request past due rent without having to do 30-day notice to quit?

An owner can certainly make a request for rent payments that are due during the eviction moratorium; owners may also enter into repayment agreements with tenants during the moratorium, making clear the amount due and the terms for repayment. 

If a tenant doesn’t pay the full rent on time, can I send a late payment notice to the tenant?

Yes, but with some caveats: the moratorium prohibits initiation of eviction proceedings but it does not prohibit an owner from sending the tenant a notice that the rental payment is late or incomplete. Among other things, if an owner wants to initiate collection or eviction proceedings after the moratorium ends, it is wise to have a copy of these notices on hand, making clear that the housing provider documented the nonpayment and provided information to the tenant. If you send such a notice, you should consult with your legal counsel about the wording. Among other things, the notice needs to indicate that it is not itself a notice of eviction.

What other steps should I take if a tenant doesn’t pay the full rent on time?

In addition to providing a notice of nonpayment, many owners are asking tenants to execute a formal rent forbearance agreement. These documents constitute a contractual agreement between the housing provider and the tenant, identifying the amount of rent that is unpaid and providing terms for repayment in the future. If a tenant has a good rental history in the past, it may be desirable to work out terms for repayment after the moratorium, rather than go through the effort to evict a tenant now and try to re-rent the unit. From the tenant’s point of view, many are eager to enter into a forbearance agreement that establishes a mechanism to pay accrued rents to avoid having to pay all accrued but unpaid rent in a lump sum at the end of the moratorium period. A forbearance agreement clarifies what the tenant owes and when it will be paid, and provides remedies that the housing provider can exercise if the repayment terms are not met. Again, housing providers need to consult with legal counsel to make sure that the forbearance agreement complies with state and local landlord/tenant laws in general.

Can tenants pay partial rent?

Some housing providers may want to enter into a rent discount agreement with tenants, under which the tenant agrees to pay a discounted amount of rent on the regular due date each month. Many tenants, even if they recently lost their job, will continue to receive some income from unemployment compensation and other sources and would be willing to pay some portion of their current rent to avoid facing a lump sum at the end of the moratorium period and possible eviction thereafter. Likewise, many housing providers would prefer to receive at least some portion of their rental income on a current basis, rather than no income at all and face the cost and uncertainty of eviction in the future. Again, any such discount agreement should be prepared by legal counsel familiar with state and local landlord/tenant law requirements.

If tenant does not pay rent during the eviction moratorium, when can I start to charge fees or penalties for nonpayment?

Immediately. Unlike the previous moratorium in the CARES Act (which has expired), the CDC notice allows a property owner to charge late fees, penalties and interest on any rent that accrues during the eviction moratorium period (September 4 – December 31), per the terms of the lease.

Am I allowed to initiate eviction for cause (criminal activity, etc.) during the eviction moratorium?

Yes: the moratorium only applies to actions “for nonpayment of rent or other fees or charges.” A housing provider can initiate a “for cause” eviction if a tenant has breached some other lease provision – such as committing a crime or assault on another tenant – that does not involve nonpayment of rent or other charges or fees.

The housing market changes daily, stay updated with us. For all your real estate needs, Talk To Tammy 636.931.9100!

Waves of Homebuyers Hit the Housing Market Before Labor Day

25th August 2020 – The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index reached 104.8 nationwide for the week ending August 15, posting a 0.9 point decrease over last week and 4.8 points above the pre-COVID baseline. The ‘housing demand’ component remained above recovery, with this week’s index reaching 121.8, the second highest index value since March,
Locally, a total of 34 markets have crossed the recovery benchmark as of this week. The overall recovery index is showing greatest recovery in Las Vegas, Seattle, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.

National Recovery Trends

Waves of home shoppers continue to drive the housing market recovery this summer, powering sales and putting a dent on inventory as back-to-school plans hang in the balance. The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index reached 104.8 nationwide for the week ending August 15, posting a 0.9 point decrease over last week and 4.8 points above the pre-COVID baseline. The slight drop in the overall index this week comes after visible and opposite changes to demand and supply components of growth.

The ‘housing demand’ component remained above recovery, with this week’s index reaching 121.8, the second highest index value since March, after posting a second consecutive weekly increase. In contrast, the ‘housing supply’ component declined back down to 97.5, after having surpassed the recovery threshold last week. New listings remain on the right trajectory but growth is still variable on a week to week basis, and consistent improvement will be key in the weeks to come.

With supply and demand moving in opposite directions, sellers are clearly gaining an upper hand as buyer competition builds up. While sellers are returning to the market, buyers are increasingly outnumbering them, causing overall levels of inventory to decline.

The pandemic has transformed the homebuying season to one that’s not dictated by the school calendar. In a typical year, online traffic peaks in July and begins to dwindle down in august as schools restart in the fall. This year, online traffic has continued to accelerate through August, as most of the country debates back-to-school plans. This bodes well for sellers in the next few weeks, as the usually quieter early fall season may see summer levels of activity.

Overall Housing Recovery Index 104.8 -0.9
Housing Demand Growth Index 121.8 +3.3
Listing Price Growth Index 106.5 +0.2
New Supply Growth Index 97.5 -4.2
Pace of Sales Index 104.7 +0.0

The ‘housing demand’ component – which tracks growth in online search activity – remained visibly above recovery, with this week’s index reaching 121.8, up 3.3 points over the prior week and 21.8 points above the January baseline. Homebuyer interest continues to outpace last year levels as detected on realtor.com over the last few months. While record-high prices, short supply and economic headwinds pose significant challenges, the pool of ready-to-transact buyers continues to grow.

Powered by a backlog of demand, the ‘home price’ component – which tracks growth in asking prices – increased by 0.2 points last week, and is now at 106.5, 6.5 points above the January baseline. With supply at record lows and buyer competition on the rise, sellers have regained leverage, enabling the fastest price growth recorded since January 2018. As inventory and foot traffic grow through the end of the summer, we’ll get a good indication of whether higher asking prices will translate into higher selling prices.

The ‘pace of sales’ component – which tracks differences in time-on-market – continues to remain above the pre-COVID baseline. The time-on-market index remained the same as last week, at104.7, 4.7 points above the January baseline, suggesting buyers and sellers are continuing to connect at a faster rate and setting up the peak homebuying season in August.

Notably, the ‘housing supply’ component – which tracks growth of new listings – declined to 97.5, down 3.3 points over the prior week, and 2.5 points below the January baseline. The temporary boost in new listings seen earlier came as the summer season replaced the typical spring homebuying season. More homes entered the market than typical for this time of the year, but further improvement could be limited going into the fall as the peak cycle subsides.

Local Recovery Trends

The Midwest Approaches the Recovery Threshold
Regionally, the West (112.7) continues to lead the pack in the recovery, with the overall index now visibly above the pre-COVID benchmark. The Northeast (107.4) and South (101.8) remain above recovery pace but conditions in the south declined slightly this week. The Midwest (99.7) continued to see slight improvements in market conditions.

Notably, it was primarily the ‘housing supply’ component which decreased the South’s overall score this week. The ‘housing supply’ component, measuring new listings, declined -3.4 points in the South, while all other components grew. While the Midwest and Northeast continued to see improved supply conditions, the West’s ‘housing supply’ component also declined, by 2.7 points, potentially indicating a small slip in seller confidence in the South and West this week.

Social distancing and economic resilience continue to be key factors driving local differences in the housing recovery. Per our earlier research, the spread of COVID-19 is closely linked to the housing slowdown, with markets with higher cases per capita more likely to see a bigger impact on supply and the pace of sales. The speed and sustainability of the reopening, and each market’s ability to contain COVID-19, are dictating the speed of recovery across the regions.

Finally, resilient economies may have an edge in the housing recovery, and areas with strong job markets before COVID-19, especially those with thriving tech sectors, are seeing buyers and sellers reconnect faster than the rest of the country. Are you ready to list your house? Talk To Tammy, 636.931.9100 

6 Home Trends Buyers Love

Open floor plans, smart homes, and outdoor areas are among the features in top demand for home shoppers this year. Home improvement website Fixr’s recent study, Single-Family Home Construction and Remodeling Trends 2020, highlights the renovation and construction choices of buyers and homeowners in 2020. The results reveal some key areas of interest in home design that real estate professionals may want to spotlight.

1. Open floor plan and two-story homes represent the most popular layouts.

Floor Plans

While there has been a trend toward open floor plans for the past few years, 2020 is seeing an overwhelming consensus: 90% of experts selected an open floor plan as the most popular single-family layout. And it’s likely to remain so in the future.

As quarantine periods and social distancing guidelines force families to spend more time together at home, large common areas command a premium value. Family rooms, dens, and open kitchen areas are acquiring new importance.

Another large percentage—77%—are favoring two-story houses in 2020. Compare this to the 29% who preferred single-story homes, or the 2% who favor split-level residences.

2. Smart homes rank first among design choices.

Popular Design Choices

A growing trend in home design is the smart home, in which AI-based automation systems are seamlessly incorporated into electric circuits, heating/cooling systems, and entrances. Buyers this year are likely to appreciate homes in which smart thermostats, security cameras, and smart outlets are already installed.

Since installation of many smart systems is relatively affordable, this represents an important opportunity for real estate professionals to make their listings trendy, modern, and full-featured.

3. Most homeowners make accessibility modifications to their home for future personal use.

Modification Reasons

Homeowners looking to age in place are exploring renovations that allow them to do so more easily. Homes with accessibility features likely will be more attractive to senior buyers as they look toward a future of independence, even as their physical abilities may decrease. This future need is a motivating factor behind such renovations (54%) than current personal use (11%) or current use for an aging relative (22%).

Buyers also are evaluating potential homes with accessibility modifications in mind. For instance, a front yard with space for a ramp will be more appealing than one with front steps leading directly to the street.

4. Energy efficient homes with tight building envelopes are among the top designs for green construction.

Green Construction

As Americans deal with furloughs, layoffs, and economic uncertainty, many are paying more attention to their energy bills. Energy efficient homes are suddenly much more attractive than conventional properties, and buyers who may not have ever considered green construction are making energy efficiency a priority.

Sixty-two percent of design experts say energy efficient homes are a top priority in 2020, according to Fixr’s study, far outweighing other options like cool roofs or solar panels.

Prevent Energy Transfer

Experts say a tight building envelope—more than exterior or interior insulation—is the most common way to prevent energy seepage. A tight building envelope minimizes air transfer and can be an important feature of an energy efficient and environmentally friendly home. A home with both effective insulation and a tight building envelope will provide the best value to a buyer who desires lower energy bills and minimal heating requirements.

5. Family space and outdoor kitchens are trending in 2020.

Outdoor Living

Outdoor playsets, firepits, and recreation-oriented yards are seeing an uptick in popularity, especially among married couples with kids. For real estate and staging pros, this means that a little attention to backyards, porches, and other outdoor living areas can ignite extra buyer interest.

This is a 2020 trend that has only been cemented by quarantine rules and social distancing regulations. As playgrounds, parks, and outdoor amusements became unavailable, families were forced to think in terms of what outdoor activities they could offer their children on their own property.

Outdoor Living Spaces

But outdoor living spaces aren’t limited to playgrounds, decks, and patios. Fixr’s research shows that outdoor kitchens were nearly twice as popular as a traditional patio. The outdoor kitchen is another trend that has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in 2020 and 2021. New recommendations for socially distant entertaining, which may be better suited for meals and meetings with friends outside, may increase the number of homeowners wanting both outdoor kitchens and seating spaces.

6. Contemporary and modern will be the most common styles used in modular construction.

Prefab Construction

Modular and prefab construction continues to be widely used, and Millennials are most likely to build modular homes. As part of the Fixr survey, consumers were asked which style of prefab building would be most popular in 2020. A large majority (62%) indicated that a contemporary, modern style would be most commonly selected by home buyers. The runner-up choice was ranch-style—but it was only selected by 22% of respondents.

This year has been in many ways an uncharted year, full of unexpected surprises. But even as priorities have changed, many home buying and renovation trends have remained consistent. Keeping track of these trends can help us stay relevant as we navigate the real estate industry in a socially distant world. Looking for a new home? Talk To Tammy, 636-931-9100