Coronavirus: A Lot Changed Last Week in Real Estate
ORLANDO, Fla. – The spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus, sparked a number of changes last week as stocks continued to fall and government officials attempted to flatten the curve of potential cases, convince Americans to self-isolate in their homes as much as possible, and stave off a recession.
Here’s a synopsis of high-profile real estate changes that appeared in Florida Realtors News over the last seven days:
Over the previous weekend, the Federal Reserve Board slashed short-term interest rates close to 0% – a move that could lower the cost of adjustable-rate mortgages, credit cards and other short-term debt. While it can sometimes influence 30-year mortgages, however, 30-year rates actually went slightly higher as lenders struggled to keep up with an avalanche of current owners trying to refinance their property.
A number of major announcements involved delays as the nation hunkers down to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Florida Department of Professional Regulation (DBPR) extended the time real estate and other licensees have to renew their license if their annual renewal period is the first quarter, delaying it from March 30 to April 30.
The IRS also extended the deadline for paying income taxes. On Wednesday it announced that taxpayers had to pay their taxes on time but had three more months to submit any taxes owed. But it switched gears and, on Thursday, announced that taxes did not have to be filed for three extra months – until July 15, 2020.
Contract form changes
Buyers and sellers wrestled with the impact of the pandemic on their home sale or purchase, and Florida Realtors released a new contract addendum, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Extension Addendum to Contract on Wed. to help members with mid-transaction delays. On Fri., an FAQ about the addendum and new video were released in response to questions posed to Florida Realtors Legal Hotline.
Small business aid
The federal and state government announced some type of low-interest loans to help small businesses whose income has been hurt by the virus. Florida activated its Emergency Small Business Loan program – a $50M program for short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that have suffered economic injury resulting from the pandemic.
The next day, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that Florida’s small companies can apply for loans up to $2 million to offset temporary revenue losses resulting from the pandemic. Loan amounts are based on each applicant’s financial condition with repayment terms up to 30 years.
Evictions and foreclosures
All loans guaranteed or owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) received a 60-day reprieve from foreclosures and evictions last week in three separate announcements. On Monday, FHFA also announced help for renters: Multifamily properties with mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Owners can get mortgage forbearance in exchange for halting evictions during the forbearance period.
Florida Realtors association changes
A letter sent to all members from Florida Realtors President Barry Grooms announced that the association has suspended all in-person meetings at its Orlando headquarters and the Tallahassee office – but the state association remains open for business and all its products, tools and services are available.
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