It’s hard to believe that one year has passed since our world changed with the pandemic. There have been so many changes in our daily routines, the way we interact with each other, how we conduct business, and so much more. The hardest part for many of us was that we lost loved ones or could not visit them due to restrictions. Let’s hope this all changes soon with the vaccine. As far as the real estate world goes, it has remained resilient and has actually thrived. To some, it may be hard to believe, but it’s true. Historically low-interest rates, crazy low inventory levels, and high demand resulted in a frenzied market over the last year. Housing gained over $3.1 Trillion in equity in 2020 as prices escalated in almost every market around the country. We are only a little over two months into 2021, and we continue to see a strong housing market. Inventory remains extremely low, rates have ticked up slightly but are still very attractive, and buyer demand remains incredibly robust. The biggest concern remains the low inventory. We continue to see multiple offer situations in all price ranges through-out Northern Virginia. Many times, contracts are being submitted without the buyers even seeing the home! Crazy but true. Buyers are conducting pre-offer home inspections, waiving all contingencies, and are bidding 10-13% over the list price to get into a home. I believe we will be in this type of market for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately for buyers, I don’t see a flood of houses coming on the market to cover the demand that is out there today. Interest rates will remain low to help keep the market and economy moving. We continue to have low unemployment relative to other parts of the country, so people are continuing to relocate to our area. Couple all of this with the Millennials entering the market as home buyers; it’s quite the tsunami. If you are considering selling or buying a home, it is more critical today than ever to have a professional representing you. Expert negotiation skills and market knowledge are essential in this aggressive market. Please feel free to call me to review your situation in more detail or allow us to help someone you know. I am always happy to help. I am looking forward to warmer weather and more hours of daylight, and to seeing much more of you in all environments real soon!
It’s a good life.
Helping You Spring Forward For Daylight Saving Time
Courtesy: American Home Shield Blog
DPA/AFP via Getty Images
Daylight saving time (DST) isn’t all bad. In fact, when we move an hour ahead, we enjoy more daytime hours and use less energy. Learn reasons not to dread this time of the year… Although less than 40% of the countries around the world use daylight saving time, the United States implemented it in 1918, and it doesn’t appear like it’s going to change anytime soon.
So, need a reason not to dread getting out of bed an hour earlier on March 14th? Consider these four benefits of daylight saving time:
There’s more light to enjoy in the evening – What’s better: Only a fleeting moment of daylight before work (and driving home in the dark) or being able to enjoy the daylight well into the evening hours? That’s what we thought. More light = more time to do what you want or need to do = a happier you.
The crime rate drops during daylight saving time -Research has shown that robbery rates after daylight saving time fall an average of 7 percent, with a much larger 27% drop during those light-filled evening hours that didn’t exist before the time change. Mind. Blown.
It minimizes energy consumption (and lowers your costs) – When you enjoy more natural daylight, you use less artificial light — and that makes a real impact on the overall cost of energy consumption.
It lowers the incidence of traffic accidents. – Like driving home in the daylight versus the darkness, driving is easier when you can see your surroundings and where you’re going, right? Duh! Studies actually show that we could save hundreds of lives per year if we implemented daylight saving time year-round.
How to Prepare for Daylight Saving Time:
Regardless of the benefits, we can’t lie: It’s still going to be a jolt to your typical routine. To make the time change easier, though, follow these four practices before the big day:
Reset your clocks the night before. – Sure, your phone, computer and cable box are going to automatically update, but what about that clock on your microwave? Your oven? Or the one on the wall by your desk? Avoid confusion (and annoyance, for that matter) by turning the clocks ahead one hour beforehand.
Catch some extra ZZZs. – The best way to prepare for the lost hour of sleep is to build up to it. For example, starting several days before the time change, make sure your family members are in bed 15–30 minutes before their regular bedtimes.
Get your house prepared. – Daylight saving time means summer’s around the corner. Unfortunately, that also means you’ll be cranking up your air conditioner soon. Armed with the true daylight saving spirit, consider executing energy-saving tips for your home.
Be positive. – It’s inevitable: You’re going to come across people who were “surprised” by the time change and they won’t be happy about it. Just keep the above-mentioned benefits of daylight saving time in mind and don’t fall victim to their bad moods. Besides, if you’ve utilized the previous tips, you’re well prepared. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even realize that you don’t dread “springing forward” after all
Photo & Article courtesy: Good Drink by Colleen Jeffers
COOK TIME: 2 minutes
YIELDS: 1 Tasty Drink
- 7 oz Guinness beer
- 1 oz Irish whiskey (your choice)
- .5 oz cream of coconut
- .5 oz cinnamon bark syrup (recipe below)
- 3 dashes angostura bitters
- Combine the whiskey, cream of coconut, cinnamon bark syrup, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice.
- In a cocktail glass, gently pour 7 oz of Guinness.
- Gently slide 3-4 ice cubes into the beer (tilting the glass makes this easier).
- Shake the contents of the cocktail shaker, then pour into glass with beer and ice.
- Garnish the clover and drink with a straw.
Note: Cinnamon Bark Syrup recipe, as described in Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan and Nick Fauchald: “In a saucepan, muddle 1 ounce of cassia cinnamon sticks until it’s broken up into shards. Add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of superfine sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat, cover, and simmer gently for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand overnight. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve.”
Coronavirus Mortgage Forbearance Relief Has Been Extended – What To Do When It Ends
SOURCE: Natalie Campisi, FORBES ADVISOR
Mortgage borrowers facing the end of their forbearance plans in March just received a reprieve, courtesy of the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA). Initially, borrowers facing hardship due to the pandemic qualified for a 180-day mortgage forbearance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with the option to extend it for an additional 180 days.
Now, the FHFA is giving borrowers three more months of forbearance. That means homeowners can opt into a forbearance plan for a total of 15 months. If your plan was set to expire next month, you now have until June to exit forbearance. Borrowers must be in a forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021 to qualify for the three-month extension. This additional time offers an opportunity for struggling homeowners to put themselves in the best position possible before their forbearance expires.
Even with the three-month extension, if you know that you won’t be able to afford your mortgage and the extra forbearance payments once the relief ends, it’s important to come up with a plan as soon as possible. We talked to experts about what choices homeowners can make depending on their goals and financial situation. The total number of mortgages in forbearance has remained about the same for the last few months, accounting for about 5.38% of servicers’ portfolio volume as of January 24, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That makes around 2.7 million homeowners currently enrolled in forbearance plans.
Once forbearance ends, homeowners are responsible for the missed payments and accrued interest. There are several ways to repay that balance, including:
> A repayment plan. In this scenario, you would resume your regular mortgage payments and add part of your forbearance balance to that payment each month, until your forbearance balance is paid off. Ask your lender if they can work with you to come up with a repayment plan that’s affordable.
> Lump-sum payment. Once the forbearance period ends, you would owe the total sum (principal and accrued interest) in one payment. If your monthly payments were $2,000 and you paused them for six months, you would owe $12,000 plus interest at the end of your forbearance.
> A deferral or partial claim. For homeowners who can afford to resume their mortgage payments but can’t afford more than that, you can defer the forbearance balance to the end of the loan (so when the mortgage ends, the forbearance balance payments begin) or you might be eligible for a junior lien, which puts off repayment until they refinance, sell or the mortgage ends.
> Loan modification. For borrowers who want to keep their homes, but can’t afford their mortgage payments and have come to the end of their forbearance options, they can apply for a loan modification. A loan modification is a free service that lowers the interest rate or balance of a home loan or extends the terms in order to make the monthly payments more affordable for the borrower. Of course, there’s always the option to sell your home—which is a better strategy than missing more payments (after your forbearance period is over) and going into foreclosure. We’re currently in a seller’s market, which is excellent news for homeowners.
If you have equity in your home, you might be able to sell, repay your mortgage and forbearance and still pocket a profit. If this looks like the best path for your current situation, work with a real estate professional as soon as possible. They can guide you through the process before and hopefully help you sell or rent your home before there are any negative consequences to your credit score (late or missed mortgage payments).
Here Are Your Options After Forbearance Ends
Consider Today’s Rental Costs – “In all situations, consider the rental prices available right now versus the prices of owning and managing a home. Choosing to strategically default can drastically hurt your credit score, which may have long-term repercussions. It may make more sense to sell your home, stabilize and when you’re ready, own a home again with a substantially lower interest rate on your mortgage payment.” — Andrew Wang, founder and CEO of Valon, a New York-based mortgage servicing company.
Foreclosure Is the Worst Choice – “It is far better to sell than to go into foreclosure and ruin your credit for a number of years. Many people have been forced into financial hardship due to the pandemic. Working to maintain a good credit rating is key to their recovery. Being in forbearance has no negative ramifications to one’s credit scores; however, not making payments and going into default and getting foreclosed upon is disastrous to a credit score.”— Melissa Cohn, executive mortgage banker at William Raveis Mortgage in New York City
You May Be Able to Pay Off Your Mortgage in a Sale – “If you decide to sell your home, you may find you’re able to ask for a sale price that would pay off your mortgage in full, especially since home equity levels are extremely high. But it’s important to note homeowners will have to pay for the months they were in forbearance, including interest owed.” — Dara Blume Clewely, director of financial risk and economics at online mortgage lender Better.com
Equity in Your Home Could Help You Remain in Place – “There are providers out there that will buy some of your home equity from you while letting you keep title and control of your home. The amount they pay for a slice of your home may be enough to bridge you to when you’re able to be stabilized.”— Andrew Wang
Consider Getting a Roommate – “Through home-sharing, it’s possible to earn an average of $10,000 a year that can be used to offset mortgage costs. There are also other financial gains, such as splitting bills and expenses with a housemate. Additionally, since home-sharing generates passive income, it’s still possible to pick up a part-time job or contract work to make up the slack.”— Riley Gibson, president of Silvernest, an online home-sharing platform geared toward retirees and empty nesters.