Should I Sell My Home During The Coronavirus Pandemic Or Wait?

Jefferson County is considering easing restrictions on its stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus outbreak -businesses in downtown Hillsboro and throughout Jefferson County will be finding out soon about new guidelines for operations when they reopen on May 4th.

In the residential real estate market, we’ve begun to make the changes necessary to have a functioning seller market.  Here are some of the changes that have been made in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area:

  • No more open houses crammed with people
  • Wearing masks and gloves during showings
  • The institution of a new contract rider for coronavirus
  • Title services are now also done as a drive up service.

County Executive Gannon says businesses will be operating under a new normal with some restrictions in place when they reopen. He hopes to have those new guidelines finalized soon. The stay-at-home order ends May 3rd.

Don’t sell your home because of a pandemic –  don’t sell your home because your neighbor is panicking.  Look at all the data you have in front of you and make a decision that you are most comfortable with. 

We are here to help you find the perfect buyer, call: 636-931-9100 !

Will COVID-19 Shift Conditions to a Buyer’s Market or Seller’s Market?

The current market stall in response to COVID-19 presents a unique challenge for market tracking moving forward, and likewise for buyers and sellers trying to understand the housing market that they are walking into. Months’ supply represents the dynamic between listings and sales. As each side of the homebuying transaction responds distinctly to the COVID-19 situation, this dynamic shifts, and “buyer’s market” and “seller’s market” labels along with it.

So, will COVID-19 shift conditions to a buyer’s market, or a seller’s market?

On the one hand, the rate of new listings entering the market has gone down dramatically, adding very little new inventory to the national pool of listings. Likewise, there are fewer closed sales due to social distancing measures. The lack of new listings bottlenecks the potential of sales. If the downturn is roughly equal in listings and sales, then months’ supply as a metric would continue its current trend.

However, as the market resets and picks back up later in the year, listings and sales will likely ramp up at different times, which will have distinct effects on this buyer/seller relationship. As listings reach a critical mass to entice prospective buyers, this accumulation of listings will drive up months’ supply figures, temporarily shifting us to a buyer’s market. Then, as the rate of buyers catches up to listings, this sales and listings dynamic will continue to balance out. Where it ends up at the end of the year, however, remains to be seen.

FAQs during these hard times…

I’m worried about my credit score. What should I do if a miss a few payments due to the crisis?

The CARES Act implemented provisions to protect credit scores from January 30, 2020 through 120 days after enactment of the national emergency. If customers are making payments, or made arrangement to not make payments, customers must be reported as being current. If a customer was delinquent, but was able to make an arrangement with the servicer and is now current, then their account must be reported as current. The important thing is to reach out to your servicer, bank or credit card company if you are having trouble making your payments.

I have heard that the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac have raised rates and fees on borrowers with lower credit scores or smaller down payments?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not made any changes to credit scoring or down payment requirements. The only change they have made for borrowers is to allow MORE flexibility in how a lender can verify employment. Many individual lenders are adding their own, higher standards on these products. The rational is that the cost of servicing these loans has surged due to the widespread forbearance that is taxing servicers’ resources. Under forbearance, the servicer must continue to pay PITI to the investor, but the sheer volume of forbearance to deal with the COVID-19 response is unprecedented. Since lower-credit borrowers are more likely to take forbearance and servicing is harder to get, lenders are less willing to extend this credit regardless of the FHA or GSEs’ standards.

I’m not sure I will be able to pay or file my taxes on time for 2019; What do I do?

The IRS has delayed the due date to file and pay any taxes that are due to July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. For more IRS information, check here.

We’re still here for all of your real estate needs, call: 636-931-9100!

Your #TalkToTammyTeam

THE IMPORTANCE OF PAYING PROPERTY TAXES

Property taxes are a very important part of homeownership. Homeowners can either have the taxes added to their mortgage statements that the lender deposits in an escrow account or they can pay them separately but it’s important to pay them. Governments assess property taxes based on location and value. Property taxes paid by homeowners are used by counties and states to provide critical services and infrastructure such as police services, fire services, schools, roads and highway construction, and other uses that vary by jurisdiction. 

As home prices continue to rise which means higher property taxes, it is important that homeowners pay property taxes because failure to pay tax results in the local government imposing a tax lien on your property that has to be paid within a certain period or else the property gets foreclosed.

How Property Tax Liens Work

When a homeowner fails to pay their taxes, the local government imposes a tax lien on your property. A tax lien is a claim on the owner’s property. When a homeowner fails to pay their taxes after 12 months the county will then create a certificate for the amount of the unpaid taxes. The certificates are then sold to individuals or investors so that the unpaid property taxes are monetized. Therefore, investing in tax lien certificates help to support states maintain police, fire departments, hospitals, and other necessities. There are three major parties involved in these transactions, the homeowner, investor, and the courthouse. These certificates are bid on, either by bid down auction where the interest rate is lowered per bid or a premium bid or bid up where the winner is the highest bidder. Individuals who want to invest their money have paid for the certificate because the interest imposed on the unpaid tax is now received by the investor rather than the local government.  Moreover, after the redemption period, they are able to begin the foreclosure process and possibly possess the property. If this process is done with sound research and proper paperwork, the owner of the lien can then control the ownership rights to the property. While foreclosure is an option, it is in the interest of the owner and the mortgage originator to work together to so that the owner is able to pay the taxes before the redemption period because a tax lien takes precedence over the lien of the mortgage lender. The tax foreclosure window is typically a 60-day period to get letters out to all parties invested in the property. Those who wish to foreclose will need to also produce a deed application that carries a fee as low as $39 but can be up to $875 in some states but differs per state. If the foreclosure process is complete then the investor would be able to get a property free and clear just for the fees paid in taxes which would be a great investment.

Chron.com reports(link is external) that tax lien states are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The District of Columbia is also a tax lien jurisdiction.

Illinois has the highest interest on tax liens of 36% followed by Iowa at 24%. Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota have the lowest interest rate of 10% which is added to unpaid taxes. The redemption periods are also typically less than three years.

The #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process

After over a year of moderating home prices, it appears home value appreciation is about to reaccelerate. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explained in a recent article:

 “A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back.”

CoreLogic, in their January 2020 Market Pulse Report, agrees with Olsen, projecting home value appreciation in all fifty states this year. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 21 states appreciating 5% or more
  • 26 states appreciating between 3-5%
  • Only 3 states appreciating less than 3%

The Misconception

Many believe when real estate values are increasing, owning a home becomes less affordable. That misconception is not necessarily true.

In most cases, homes are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by almost a full percentage point since this time last year.

Another major piece of the equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 5% over the last year, contributing to the affordability factor.

Black Knight, in their latest Mortgage Monitor, addressed this exact issue:

 “Despite the average home price increasing by nearly $13,000 from just over a year ago, the monthly mortgage payment required to buy that same home has actually dropped by 10% over that same span due to falling interest rates…

Put another way, prospective homebuyers can now purchase a $48K more expensive home than a year ago while still paying the same in principal and interest, a 16% increase in buying power.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, realize that homes are still affordable even though prices are increasing. As the Black Knight report concluded:

“Even with home price growth accelerating, today’s low-interest-rate environment has made home affordability the best it’s been since early 2018.”