The Spark of Trust – More Important Than a Real Estate Sale

I was referred to a potential home buyer in Destin, Florida.  He was in the construction business and had just been working in our area for a few months, coming here from another state. I could tell that English was his second language, and I listened carefully.  He told me that he had never bought a home before, but had found one online in Destin that he wanted to see. I looked it up and it was already under contract. Then, I asked him if he had been pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.  There can be stricter loan requirements for self-employed persons, and I was concerned that his local work history may not be sufficient to get approved.

He told me he had money saved up, emergency funds that he could spend.  He mentioned the full amount could be used.  Giving me pause, I said without thinking, “Do you want to spend your entire emergency funds?”

That’s when the spark of trust lit up. He responded, “I like you.” I was taken aback and said “What?”  He said, “I really like you”.  He didn’t have to explain why.

A few days later, he told me he had decided to rent first. Honestly, I was glad. My intuition told me it was the right thing to do in his situation. I didn’t make the sale. But I earned someone’s trust, and more importantly, I helped him.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Wells Fargo Mortgage Help – Forbearance With End of Loan Payment Deferral

COVID mortgage forbearance Wells Fargo

Some mortgage forbearance stories have a good ending. Wells Fargo, for example, is quick to respond and help borrowers who have trouble paying their mortgage due to Covid-19. In fact, they have one of the most comprehensive websites explaining the types of mortgage assistance they offer. Upon request, they will suspend your mortgage payments for three months, and potentially extend the suspension for three more months. During this time, they will not report the missed payments to credit bureaus, unless you were previously in default.

The terms of repayment of your Wells Fargo mortgage can range from the several options, aligning with the CARES Act, depending your loan type and investor.   Some examples of loan backers, or investors, are government sponsored enterprises (GSE’s) like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA -Veterans Administration, USDA and HUD.  Here are the options Wells Fargo lists as possible solutions after the forbearance period ends:

  1. Lump Sum Payment (if you can) to repay the missed payments at once.
  2. Repayment Plan spreading out the missed payments over a few months, as agreed. For example, if you were $4000 behind, instead of paying $1500 per month for your regular mortgage payment, you could pay $400 more, or $1900 per month, for ten months, until the suspended amount of $4000 is re-paid.
  3. Loan Modification refinancing the whole mortgage balance to add in the missed payments. For example, if you owe $100,000 and skip $6000 in payments, your new loan would be for $106,000 and perhaps your interest rate would be changed.
  4. Mortgage Deferral There are two possibilities with deferral (or deferment). The first option, for example, would be if you skipped three months of payments, your loan term would be extended for three months. So, instead of having 30 months left on your mortgage, you would have 33 months. The second option would be to have the full amount of your skipped payments payble as a lump sum at the end of your loan or when you sell the house.   So, if you skipped $5000 in payments, when you finally pay off your house or sell it, your last payment or payoff amount, would be $5000 higher. Here is a Wells Fargo deferral letter that illustrates the latter:

    Wells Fargo Forebearance Le… by Wendy Rulnick on Scribd

    If you find that you need to sell your Emerald Coast real estate, contact me to discuss your options, whether traditional sale or short sale.

    It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

    Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
    Call 850-259-0422
    Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

    Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

    This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Don’t Let Your VA Mortgage Lender Scare You About Lump Sum Payment

You lost your job.  You are a Veteran. You cannot make your mortgage payments. You called your lender and their steely “debt collector” tone and threatening letter would scare anyone.

If you experienced loss of income on the Emerald Coast of Florida due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Veteran’s Administration has issued clarifications about how your VA mortgage lender must treat you.  Initially, VA borrowers may have received intimidating letters, such as this:

In fact, this forbearance letter refers to foreclosure twice, as well as short sale, and credit implications. It implies that to catch up, the loan must be brought “current” through a reinstatement (e.g. lump sum payment), or another workout option. This is pretty scary stuff.  The VA, however, has issued Frequently Asked Questions  that should put you at ease regarding your VA mortgage and keeping your home, as specified in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security – CARES Act:

  1. You may skip payments for 180 days and extend to 360 total days should you be economically impacted by Covid-19.
  2. Your credit score will not be changed to “delinquent” during this time (unless you were previously in default).
  3. You will not have to pay a late penalty, however, interest will accrue.
  4. You do not have to make a lump sum payment at the end of your forbearance payment (however, you can if you want to).
  5. Your VA mortgage lender may offer to modify your loan to extend the term, adding the missed payment months to the end or your loan (a type of deferment).
  6. Your VA mortgage lender may offer to make the missed payments payable in one amount at the end of your mortgage term.  For example, if you missed $10,000 of payments, when you sell your house, the $10,000 amount would be added to your mortgage payoff.
  7. You could spread out the missed payments over time with an agreement from your lender.
  8. If you don’t recover financially at the end of the help period, you may do a VA Compromise short sale, a regular sale, or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Bottom line, if you contact your VA mortgage lender for help now during the Covid-19 crisis, they should respect you and your  military service, and work with you, not force you to make a lump sum repayment.

If you decide to sell your Emerald Coast of Florida home, contact me to explore your options, whether by traditional sale or VA Compromise short sale.

Wendy Rulnick,
Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Navigating The Personal Responsibility of Social Distancing

For the first few weeks of the Florida Stay-at-Home order, I paid a lot attention to others’ social distancing behavior. After all, I was doing the right thing. My husband and I decided we would be prudent. We limit our time out of the house. We wear masks if we have to go to the store. We avoid crowded aisles. We don’t socialize. We use hand sanitizer,  we disinfect food packages. At my Destin real estate office, I’ve removed the candy jar. I sanitize the doors and banisters. I’ve had to gently tell others to back away six feet.  I had listened to the CDC guidelines and modified my behavior.  But, why hadn’t others?

There was “civil disobedience” everywhere. I went to Walmart and noticed people crowding aisles, few wearing masks. I saw customers walking in and out of a convenience store while I was pumping gas, and counted 11 people going in, not one with a face covering.  Then there’s Lowe’s – now that was a party.  First, we could barely find a parking spot.   Nonplussed, I observed multiple people crammed in a car, father, mother and three children, all getting out and going inside the store, hand-in-hand.  (I don’t think you’d see that on a normal day.) I sat and waited for my husband to go in (just one of us at a time means less chance of exposure) and marveled at the jubilant throngs.  It was like the mall at Christmas.

Social distancing on walks? Unless that was a couple I saw with their 45 year old kid, there was no social distancing.  Walking side-by-side, baby cart by baby cart.  Not in family units. A local neighborhood even had a food truck come and they posted pictures online. All were pleasantly three feet apart.  They couldn’t wait to schedule the next one. And a Yappy hour on a cul-de-sac for all the dogs to play (with their owners). The neighbor kids, too.  They go from house to house, in each other’s driveways with their bikes. Then they go home to their individual households. No virus-carrying there.

This was getting on my nerves.

For the first few weeks, I was upset. “Harrumph! How can they be ignoring social distancing guidelines?”  Didn’t people get it? Didn’t they understand that even showing no symptoms, they may still be infected and cause asymptomatic spread of the virus? They would not just be protecting themselves, they would be protecting others if they were careful, stayed six feet apart, wore a mask, did not socialize in groups, and did not allow kids to have play-dates, as recommended by the CDC. But they didn’t.

Then I gave up.

I realized that I cannot control others’ behavior. I can observe it, I can be curious, I can even expect it. But, I cannot let it bother me.

The only behavior I can control is my own. I will proceed accordingly.

 

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Florida Real Estate Form Asks for COVID-19 Precautions

There is a new Florida real estate form pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis.  It is an acknowledgment that asks for affirmation from prospect, buyer, seller, tenant, and landlord that they are aware of the Coronavirus risks that may arise from in-person real estate showings.  Specifically, the document asks them to minimize health risks to themselves and others, and to acknowledge that they are not aware of any issues that would pose such a risk.  Further, the form states that buyers, sellers, and others will follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.  It also asks the parties to alert others if they subsequently become aware of new information that may have posed a danger, and to assume all risks from in-person access to Florida real estate.

The new Florida COVID-19 acknowledgment is the second form created for use by Florida Realtors, in addition to the COVID-19 contract addendum.  Here is the new COVID-19 In-Person Access Acknowledgment form in its entirety.

Florida Real Estate COVID-1… by Wendy Rulnick on Scribd

 

If you find that during or after the COVID-19 crisis, you must sell your Emerald Coast real estate, consider your options, whether traditional sale or short sale.

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Emerald Coast Pending Sales Down Since COVID-19

Real estate sales on the Emerald Coast of Florida have decreased since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Looking at the entire region, including Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Freeport, Niceville, Point Washington and DeFuniak Springs, pending sales of real estate have decreased from 790 units to 446 total units from the first two weeks of March 2020 to the first two weeks of April 2020.  That’s a drop of 43% in the number of houses, condos, town homes and lots going under contract.

Individual Pending Sales by area from the period of March 1 – March 15 as compared to the period between April 1 – April 15 were as follows:

Destin Pending Sales dropped from 51 to 22  ( -56%).

Niceville Pending Sales dropped from 57 to 38  ( – 33%).

Fort Walton Beach Pending Sales dropped from 123 to 82 ( – 33%).

Miramar Beach Pending Sales dropped from  67 to 25  (- 62%).

Santa Rosa Beach, North of Hwy 98, Pending Sales dropped from 37 to 19 (- 48%).

Crestview Pending Sales dropped from 120 to 75 (- 37%).

30-A South Walton, South of Hwy 98 Pending Sales dropped from 102 to 34 (- 66%).

Decidedly, the Coronavirus economic effect has had an impact on Emerald Coast real estate.

 

If you find that during or after the COVID-19 crisis, you must sell your Emerald Coast real estate, consider your options. Let me know if you have any questions about real estate, whether traditional or short sale.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Statistics source is Emerald Coast Association of Realtors.

Time for Cleaning Out

I am a little behind the times, given that a lot of people have been cleaning and organizing since the inception of the Florida Stay-at-Home order. After three weeks, it finally got to me. It has been a time of accounting and personal reflection, and it manifested in ordering and upgrading. What do we really need? What services do we really use? What stuff is necessary?

Long overdue was the cleaning out of my storage unit in Destin. I had this unit for 25 years, from when I first relocated to Florida.  It morphed from the original junk I moved here from Connecticut, into a packed repository of real estate signs, office furniture, and files, until twelve years ago, when I built my current office.  I hadn’t been to the unit in that many years, but I was still paying the bill. I finally said “enough” and brought my husband with me to look, grab what I wanted (my mother’s original china collection), and have Junk-A-Way take the rest. I didn’t even know if the rolling door would open.

Well, it did. The first horrifying thing that happened when we opened it, after the musty folders tumbled off a filing cabinet to the ground, was the “hand”.  I am not making this up. It was one of those Halloween hands that is on top of a candy jar that scares you when reaching in. It was green. And it was covered in cobwebs.

That aside, it was an adventure getting into the unit.  At 10′ x 10′, it was packed with old desks, shelving units, filing cabinets, printers, computers, boxes of files, giant real estate signs, and my grandmother’s piano. What I really wanted was far in the back. My mother’s china. I had pined for that for years. My poor husband had to move box after box outside the unit, until we were far enough in to find boxes labeled “china”.  Other treasures that I didn’t expect, including an old coin collection, a hunting bow, racquetball racquets, and an old recording of me on a newscast, was a box of photos from my real estate days in Connecticut. Oh, the perm.

So, the cleaning, ordering and upgrading continues. Since then, I’ve gone through drawers of jewelry rarely worn, with boxes ready to give a friend to re-purpose. I’ve organized my office, throwing out junk. I’ve cancelled services that were add-ons that I didn’t really need.  And I lowered my cable bill. I didn’t realize I was paying for a long abandoned phone number, snuck onto page four of the fine print, for years. I am not done. Are you?

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells traditional real estate and short sales in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin,  Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Predictions for the Destin – Emerald Coast of Florida Housing Market – April 2020

What are the predictions for the Destin, Emerald Coast of Florida real estate market? How is the COVID-19 crisis going to affect home sales in the coming months? This I was asked by one of my good clients. Here is what I told him.

February and March home sales were strong, and better than a year ago. However, a major change took place in the Destin-Niceville market after April 1.  That’s when the Florida stay-at-home order was implemented in response to the novel Coronavirus.  All, but essential services, were allowed to stay open in Florida. Home showings decreased on many listings.

Comments from Realtors who lost sales, cited these reasons:

  1. Cash buyers lost money in the stock market.
  2. Commercial buyers were afraid to invest in a new business.
  3. Equity line buyers had their equity lines frozen.
  4. Eglin AFB and Hurlburt PCS orders were put on hold.
  5. Sellers withdrew listings.

Other observations that may affect the housing market are:

There will be a slowdown in mortgage lending, because big banks are increasing credit score requirements and down payment percentages (700 minimum credit score and 20% down). They have lost liquidity from the many forbearance requests from their current borrowers, but they still have to pay their investors. That will make properties harder to sell, as the buyer pool will be reduced.

Builder confidence is at the lowest level in nine years, per the National Association of Home Builders.

Institutional iBuyer companies who buy homes from individual owners are scaling back or stopping completely to preserve capital.

Fannie Mae predicts U.S. home sales will fall by 15% this year.  They also predict that median house prices will go up slightly.  This could be because inventory levels will decrease.

The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program was changed to reduce grant monies to companies, now capping at $1,000 per employee, up to $10,000, not a full $10,000, as previously stated. This is a blow to companies and their employees.

2.9 million mortgages are in forbearance.

24% of small businesses may close permanently.

Then, there’s unemployment. It’s at the highest level since the Great Depression.

The Emerald Coast is diverse enough to attract multi-million dollar purchasers to Destin and 30-A, and a steady flow of military servicemen and women to Navarre, Fort Walton Beach and Niceville.  The luxury buyer and seller, and Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field buyers and sellers should be able to prop up their market segments.  And despite national statistics, some local builders are doing well and custom building should continue.

However, small business owners and others whose income has been reduced or eliminated, would cause a slowdown of sales and downward pressure on pricing. Real estate sales on the Florida Panhandle are down by 45%. The next few months will shed more light on how the Emerald Coast will recover.

Wendy Rulnick, Broker
Rulnick Realty, Inc.

direct: 850-259-0422 email: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

If you are considering selling now or after the COVID-19 crisis, contact me to explore how, whether by traditional or short sale.

Bank of America Offers Mortgage Forbearance – Not Deferral

If Bank of America is your mortgage servicer and your ability to make your Destin, Florida mortgage payments has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, be careful asking them for assistance.  Bank of America, one of the biggest U.S. mortgage servicers, recently changed their home borrower website to reflect choices of either mortgage forbearance or mortgage deferral for those who are struggling and want to avoid foreclosure.  A week ago, Bank of America only offered forbearance on their website. Most people don’t know the difference. Mortgage forbearance is a delaying of payments due. This may be for a period of three months, six months, or even longer.  At the end of the forbearance period, you may have to pay back all your missed payments at once in a lump sum.  (Yikes!)

Mortgage deferment, or deferral, on the other hand, would allow you to add the skipped payments to the end of the loan by extending the loan term, or obtaining a second mortgage that would not be payable until the first mortgage is paid off e.g. when you sell the house. (As of April 1, FHA or HUD backed mortgages will allow mortgage deferment during the Coronavirus crisis). Mortgage deferment is more palatable to many people, because who would suddenly have enough money for three to six months of payments, if they had asked to skip them in the first place?

Take note, however, you won’t automatically get a deferment even if you check the right box on the Bank of America website. They will tell you that if you have a Fannie Mae or certain other government-backed loan, they cannot offer you a deferment. If you choose forbearance, in that case, you may have an option of spreading out the missed payments to re-pay them after the forbearance period ends, modifying your entire mortgage to include those payments, or paying the full amount in a lump sum, as specified in the CARES Act.

After you request mortgage assistance online, Bank of America will send you a follow-up email and mail you one or two letters.  The first, a forbearance letter, and the second, a letter offering you a dedicated mortgage specialist to discuss your situation.  (Obviously, they have not refined their system yet.) If you are not sure how to proceed, keep following up with them, as the mortgage assistance programs are changing regularly.

Here is a copy of a Bank of America forbearance letter.

If you find that during or after the COVID-19 crisis, you must sell your Emerald Coast real estate, consider your options. Contact me to explore whether it’s realistic and how you may accomplish it, whether by short sale or traditional sale.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells traditional and short sale real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Modern Confessions of a Real Estate Broker – Destin, FL

The signs above are posted at my Destin, Florida real estate office. “No Admittance if You Are Sick” and “Maintain Social Distance” (with a lovely picture of an alligator to indicate how far). Am I paranoid? Maybe. But I don’t think so. Even though Florida real estate is a deemed an essential service, I usually don’t have walk-in customers. I have a few tenants who don’t, either, but this acts as a reminder, just in case the errant person comes in. Oh, there are warning signs posted on the front door, too.

Nowadays, we normally only get the poor UPS delivery man.  At least previously, he had been able to take a chocolate from my candy jar to reward him for his labors.  I used to have it on the front desk filled with miniature Hershey bars, Snickers, and M&M’s. I removed it after realizing that lots of hands rummaged through.  Unclean hands.  Virus hands. Now on the front desk, instead, there is a box of Clorox wipes that reminds me to clean off the front door handle and to run it up the banister to the second floor.  You see, somebody else uses that banister.

When all this started, I provided a bottle of hand sanitizer in the office bathroom, so thoughtful.  After a week or so, I ended up bringing it into my personal office, for fear it would be taken. It was only a two ounce bottle. I thought about that over a weekend with some guilt.

I also locked up the 40 toilet paper rolls that were in the supply closet for anyone to take. I realized that might become important when the most-discussed topic of conversation had become “toilet paper”, even with casual acquaintances.  I packaged them up into two large bags and hid them away. I came into the office to do it when no one else was here, and I did it fast.

 

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells traditional and short sale real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.