Working With Buyers In A Covid-19 Environment

Working with Buyers in a Covid-19 Environment

By: Noreen Payne

     Sitting at my desk and pondering the path forward during this time of social distancing and virtual work during Covid-19, I wonder how things will be different in our personal residential real estate business once we make it through these challenging times. But, for now, the focus is on how we continue to serve our buyers who are not only wanting to buy a home but also have to. Like many of our colleagues, we’re also looking at ways to conduct our business virtually. When it comes to our buyers, for now the days of picking them up in our cars and face-to-face interaction are on hold. Those of you who know me know I’m missing those personal moments immensely! 

That said, I’m finding that using tools such as FaceTime, Zoom, App Files, Video and Virtual tours can also go a long way toward building a solid relationship. In fact, we’ve just closed on a new home purchase with a buyer who has never set foot in the home they just bought! Though this is the first time we’re weathering a pandemic, this isn’t the first time we’ve done this. Remote contact can be a common way for buyers to purchase, especially investors who trust us with their goals.

     In the case of our recent close, we started in the classic Residential Real Estate fashion, doing what we do best. The fact-finding process, once done in person, can be handled via conference call. During the call I asked a lot of questions and did even more listening. Then I created the usual searches and shared them over email—after which came the usual back and forth feedback, mostly done via virtual tours, photos and a few FaceTime calls.

    Working in this manner with our buyer, we actually found the perfect home in no time! I set the showing with the listing agent and luckily the home is vacant and on a SUPRA, therefore, no contact/no touch deemed necessary. Over FaceTime the buyers and I took our time going through every inch of the home, down to the street on which it’s located. We negotiated the deal and went under contract. At the time of inspection, I met the inspector, who we know very well. As a side note: It’s my firm belief that having trusted partners working with you at all times is a must! I unlocked the door for the inspector and reconvened with the client over FaceTime to give them the update.  Obviously, many more things can happen prior to closing. In this case, we met General Contractors, interior designers, landscapers, plumbers, electricians, and more. It was a great help having an agent on the listing side who was incredibly accommodating and a pleasure to work with. In these days of Covid-19, our spirit of teamwork is being put to the test. Now more than ever, we’re all pulling together in the best interest of our clients to ensure smooth closings like this one. 

    In this time of uncertainty, my initial reaction was to withdraw—even marketing didn’t feel right. But, I believe these days the reality is that our clients now need our support more than ever (of course at a safe six-foot distance).

About Noreen Payne

Noreen Payne is a partner in the All About Florida Homes team of Lang Realty. She and her co-partner, Amy Snook, provide concierge-level real estate service in South Florida. She is currently Chairman of the Board for the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce and is on the Board of Directors for The Achievement Center for Children & Families, and is an active volunteer with The Caring Kitchen.

 

 

COVID-19 Personal Financial FAQ’s for Homebuyer’s

1. My company’s offices are closed, and I am having a hard time providing my final verification of employment within the 10 days prior to loan closing.

FHA and RHS are allowing verbal verification of employment. Specifically, your employer can provide this by phone. RHS is also allowing email verification. If you cannot get either of these, the lender will require higher reserves to cover risk. 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow verbal verification when available and an email verification under certain conditions. They have also made other forms of temporary verification available in order to help with verification while social distancing

2.My lender indicated that the IRS has shut down and they cannot process loans without an income verification document that only the IRS can generate. Is this true?

Luckily, there is precedence for an IRS shutdown based on several recent government shutdowns. Some lenders may require this document, but Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA do not so this is a lender overlay.

Fannie and Freddie both issued guidance in January 2019 following the previous government shutdown to note that they do not require the 4506T IRS tax transcripts at closing. Rather, they only require a request for the document be signed by the borrower. However, they do require the tax transcript be submitted as part of their post-closing review. NAR has asked both Fannie and Freddie to clarify and publish updated guidance given the unique challenges posed by COVID-19.

Furthermore, the IRS reopened this facility during the shutdown as it was deemed essential. We have reached out to the IRS on this point.

  1. 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?

    These claims are not true. To date, neither the FHA nor Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have 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.

    However, some 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.

    NAR sent a letter to the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency requesting help for servicers dealing with the unprecedented demands on funds due to broad forbearance requests. Improving servicing is one key to improving the flow of funds to borrowers and homeowners.

    Ginnie Mae has announced the creation of a new program, that should help alleviate lender concerns and improve access to mortgage financing. The program will provide cover for lenders by advancing them the money so they can make the required pass- through payments to investors during the forbearance period.

Communication is the Key to Successful Client Relationships

As real estate professionals, our goal is to ensure that our clients have the best experience when buying or selling a home. We, as real estate professionals, are in one of the few industries where competitors must work directly together to accomplish their goals.

From the initial showing all the way to closing we are side-by-side working through issues and ensuring that our respective clients have a wonderful experience. Why is this important?

Aside from providing a positive, stress-free experience for consumers – it can lead to referrals! There is no greater compliment than a referral from a past client! To have our phones ring is the key (no pun intended) to our success.

Click to read the full article By Noreen Payne

PALM BEACH COUNTY REAL ESTATE MARKET REPORTS – May 2019

The All About Florida Homes Team of Keller Williams Realty has been busy all around from our Sellers and Buyers!

We could have told you the market had picked up before we even analyzed the market report from Florida Realtors.   While the market is behind last year to date – we are finally starting to see traction and the market starting to play catch up.

If you have been reading our market reports monthly,  you will have read (tirelessly I know) my rants about sellers’ and agents’ pricing on active versus sold comps.  Homes can be listed for any amount but what they sell for, and how long it takes, and how many reductions do make a difference.   We are seeing the market price where home sell  – hence the movement in the market.

If you have a good marketing strategy, take pictures strategically to show the attributes of the home, land and community, market to the consumer as well as fellow agents – and analyze the showings, feedback and competition – homes will sell!

The market from $300,000 to $600,000 seems to bounce monthly from a balanced market to a slight buyer or seller market depending upon inventory.  As we always say:

In a balanced market – where you come out of the gate (price, marketing et al) really, really matters.   It is not a race to market – it has to be done right!   

Homes in the $600,000 to $999,999 range remain in a balanced market this month so same rules apply as above.

The $1,000,000+ remains a buyers’ market – there is so much inventory and many are still overpriced.  If you are a seller, it is worth a real analysis of where homes have sold and how you are being marketed – BUT you also need to be patient.  There is a lot of competition, so ensure your home stands out and that you are priced right!

Contact us at (561) 571-2289 – or via amyandnoreen@allaboutfloridahomes.com – if we can provide you with any additional market data that will help inform your decisions! We are here to help – with no obligation.

Palm Beach County Local Market Update for May 2019 Monthly Market Detail May 2019 Townhouses and Condos Monthly Market Detail May 2019 Single Family Homes

From Florida Realtors: HUD Plans a “Verification Plan for Service Animals”

All stakeholders should be pleased to learn that HUD has a “verification plan for service animals” in the works.

(Note: The following is not legal advice, as we are not lawyers. If you have specific questions about disability accommodations of any kind as it relates to housing, we can introduce you to a lawyer in our network who can advise you.) 

According to this report from Florida Realtors, “Landlords and property managers are entitled to “reliable verification” of a tenant’s need for a service animal and can require proof beyond an online certification, a Department of Housing and Urban Development official said Tuesday at the Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.”

Florida landlords, tenants, Realtors, and all involved may be interested to hear that HUD also reports to be considering how “exotic” animals (like alligators!) fit into this equation.

We are glad to hear that HUD has this issue on the radar screen, and we look forward to guidance and clarification around service animals in housing. There is significant confusion around this issue on all fronts, and clarification will surely help everyone.

Most importantly, we’d love to see people with disabilities who need service animals be treated fairly and without discrimination. As an extension, we’d like to see the “cottage industry” referenced in this article (that has sprung up to take advantage of the confusion and sell certificates) dealt with.

We’d also like to have investors who own rental properties be more clear on the issues around this, and have more structure and guidance from HUD and its state and county-level counterparts.

Also from the Florida Realtors article:

“It’s important not to trivialize the issue of service animals because of abuses of the law, Grosso said. “Very often, there is some nefarious attribution to people who request assistance animals. But many times, there are people with significant disabilities who legitimately need the assistance of a service animal. They bear the burden of the effects of service animal abuses.”

After a Home Inspection, Does the Seller Have to Make Repairs Before Closing?

After inspection, if items come back that need to be repaired – is the seller required to do the repairs?

To answer this question, I’m going to take you back to when we were making an offer on a property.  Like with many things we negotiate in real estate transaction, it depends on the strategy. This will have been a conversation that we would have had together before we made an offer.

Are we offering with “as is with right to inspect?”

In that case, the seller is not obligated to make any repairs. When deciding how to handle this as a buyer (and as your agent), it’s truly a matter of whether you want the property as is, or if it would be better for you if we cancel the contract. 

Or, are we working with one of the other types of contracts – where there is a repair limit?

In this case, there’s a dollar amount in there. The seller is obligated, in this case, to repair items up to that dollar amount.

But the truth of the matter is this: If the seller wants to sell and the buyer wants to buy, we work together with the other agent to come to an agreement that’s a win-win for both sides. Which contract we use does make a difference, of course, and that’s a decision we’ll make together when we’re going down the path of making an offer.

 

If you’re interested in buying – now or in the future – you can search listings here – and start to familiarize yourself with the buying process and the market.

If selling may be in your future – or you’re just curious about what your home is worth today – you can request a no-obligation home value assessment here. 

Or, contact us at (561) 571-2289 – or via amyandnoreen@allaboutfloridahomes.com – if we can provide you with any guidance to help inform your decisions! We are here to help. 

Buying a home in Boca. When do we need a real estate appraisal?

We got this great question from someone we met recently at a networking function.

We’re going to buy a condo in Boca. When do we need a real estate appraisal? 

Here’s the low-down!

If you are a buyer getting a mortgage, your lender is going to require an appraisal. The lender will order the appraisal.

Either the listing agent, or the buyer’s agent (or both, but at the very least one) needs to meet the appraiser at the property for the appraisal appointment. It’s important that someone knowledgeable be there to answer questions and point out the features.

If the appraiser is open to it, the Realtor can also talk about comps (comparable sales) and help the appraiser understand the current market area. Some appraisers come from out of area, so that last item is rather important.

Based upon the appraisal results, we will help you to know if your offer or your price needs to be changed or adjusted.

If you’re a buyer paying cash, you are not required to have an appraisal, but you can choose to get an appraisal. Why would you want to do that? To protect yourself on the value of the home. Realtors of the All About Florida Homes Team pride ourselves on the fact that we do in-depth competitive market analyses. So you can feel confident that you are getting a good value, and you don’t necessarily need an appraisal – but you’re still welcome to get one. Some of our clients do, and we support that decision.

We work with our cash buyers to help you determine if getting an appraisal is right for you. When the answer is yes, we walk you through each step of the process.

For our sellers, there are times when we recommend doing an appraisal for a listing. Perhaps the homes’s area or market may indicate a lot of variance between recent sold properties. Or, it might be new construction in an area where there isn’t a lot of new construction. In cases such as those, we may recommend an appraisal to avoid surprises. But whether you’re selling or buying, this is a strategic decision, and we would sit down and work together to come up with our plan based on your individual needs and situation.

Questions? Call us – Amy and Noreen, All About Florida Homes, Keller Williams Realty –  at (561) 571-2289. We’d love an opportunity to discuss your home selling or home buying goals.

And, we have some great resources here for you, too! If you’re interested in buying – now or in the future – you can search listings here – and start to familiarize yourself with the buying process and the market.

If selling may be in your future – or you’re just curious about what your home is worth today – you can request a no-obligation home value assessment here. 

Or, contact us at (561) 571-2289 – or via amyandnoreen@allaboutfloridahomes.com – if we can provide you with any additional market data that will help inform your decisions! We are here to help!

Luxury Modern Villa Town Home in Delray’s Palm Trail – Just Listed!

We’ve just listed a true gem! It’s a luxury modern villa town home located in the highly desirable area of Palm Trail in East Delray Beach.

This gorgeous home is just blocks from one of the best beaches around, and closeby to Downtown Delray’s famed Atlantic Avenue – brimming with culture, nightlife, events, cuisine, shopping, and more!

This move in ready, newly constructed in 2016, urban home has been meticulously maintained. It offers a contemporary innovative design, high end finishes – and so many spectacular upgrades. Our favorite features include:

  • custom window treatments
  • Restoration Hardware lighting
  • extensive floor to ceiling windows
  • high 11-plus foot ceilings and 8 foot solid wood doors
  • expansive, bright open floor plan.

 

 

The amazing kitchen features include a suite of high end Thermador appliances along with a custom build out of the pantry by the current owners.

Upstairs, the grand master suite with private balcony overlook the backyard feature an immense tandem walk in shower in the bathroom.

The sellers went above and beyond by also adding customized built in shelving in closets and customized storage options in the oversized garage. The home is hardwired for the ultimate opportunity to live the “smart home” lifestyle with remote control features for security, media, and temperature controlled comfort.

The indoor outdoor South Florida lifestyle can be enjoyed year around with heated pool surrounded by travertine paver decking and covered lanai in the private back yard. Lush landscaping has been added by the existing owners to enhance privacy and shade.

Take a short drive or walk, bike, perhaps golf cart along the beach to Atlantic Avenue and enjoy fine dining, upscale shopping, art galleries, theater, music venues, concerts, festivals and so much more!

For details, check out the listing here. 

 

Mortgage Pre-Approval – Is it Really Needed Before I Can Search for a Home?

We recently received this question from a friend of a past client:

Do I really need a pre-approval before I go out to look at homes?

Here’s the candid answer.

If you’re paying cash for a property, you don’t need a pre-approval, but you do need documentation showing that you have the money to buy the home. (This is called Proof of Funds.)

If you’re getting a mortgage, it’s a great idea to get a pre-approval letter before we go out to look for homes. Here’s why: 

First, you need to know “how much house” you can afford. You need to know what you can buy. It’s more than just the principal and interest of the mortgage that you need to consider. Lenders take taxes and HOA or condo dues into consideration, too. So there’s a bigger picture in addition to what monthly obligations you have today.

So, once we know how much you can afford or buy (and by the way – it doesn’t mean we’re going to spend up to that limit, that just gives us a range!), we go out and look at homes. If we’re out looking at homes and you don’t have a pre-approval and you fall in love with a home, you risk losing it. Any listing agent who understands his business is not going to take an offer from a buyer getting financing without a pre-approval from a lender. 

It’s also important to note that a pre-approval from one lender is not the same as a pre-approval from another lender – and experienced agents know this.

So, pre-approvals need to have some teeth behind them to be helpful. If they’ve run credit, they’ve seen tax returns, and it’s pretty far along in the process, it has more meaning to a listing agent, and he is more likely to advise sellers to accept your offer.

What we don’t want to happen is this:

You go out, we find the perfect home, you fall in love, and someone else swoops in to make an offer and get it under contract because you’re now working to get your pre-approval.

Bottom line: It’s a good idea to get the pre-approval up front.

If you don’t have a lender whom you trust and respect, we refer to people who we’ve worked with for years that we would recommend. 

If you have someone that you’re already comfortable with, we’d love to work with them as well. It’s a great idea for us all to get together on the phone or in person, help us understand that lender’s pre-approval process, and get the right documentation. This way, we make an offer, and we get it accepted.

If you’re interested in buying – now or in the future – you can search listings here – and start to familiarize yourself with the buying process and the market.

We would be happy to talk to you further about this subject and help you find (and secure!) just the right home for you and your family. Give us a call at (561) 571-2289 or email us at amyandnoreen@allaboutfloridahomes.com with questions or for assistance.

How do I make my offer stand out – and get the house under contract quickly?

Today we’re addressing a wonderful question we received from a social media follower who is planning to house hunt soon. She asked:

How do I make my offer stand out? How do I get the house under contract quickly?

I love this question. Of course, that is our job when we represent you, as the buyer. Finding the right home for you is only the beginning. Helping you make the right offer, getting it accepted with the right terms… and getting you to the closing table… those are the trickier parts – and the parts that we excel at, in all honesty!

So, how do we help you get that offer noticed, and accepted – in a difficult market for buyers?

1) We leverage our relationship with the listing agent. This makes a big difference. We’ve been doing this a long time in the same market, and we have a reputation and relationship with agents. They know we partner well with them to get the right deal for both parties… and to make the deal actually work – and it does make a difference.

Of course, we can help your offer stand out – based on many criteria, NOT simply based on an offer price. How?

2) With a deposit. The deposit tells a listing agent and a seller that you, the buyer, are serious about this. You’re willing to put money up, and that means you will see this through.

3) By offering a desirable closing timeframe. How quickly you can close may make a big difference to a seller, depending upon their situation.

4) By offering an inspection period that works for both sides. This means considering how long we want and need for inspections, and what the seller needs too.

 

There’s many factors of an offer – not just the dollar amount. We can work with you to write the proper offer to get this home that you want – at the right price – under the right terms.

So, we’d love the opportunity to sit down with you, help you find the right neighborhood, find the right home, get it under contract, and get you to the closing table – and then we have the opportunity to celebrate with you!

If you’re interested in buying – now or in the future – you can search listings here – and start to familiarize yourself with the buying process and the market.

Or, give us a call at (561) 571-2289 or email us at amyandnoreen@allaboutfloridahomes.com with questions or for assistance.