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.

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.

How I Made Homemade Hand Sanitizer – And You Can, Too

I made home-made hand sanitizer. I am not crafty. I am not a geek. I am not mechanical. But I did it!  Unable to find hand sanitizer in stores after multiple attempts and seeing exorbitant prices online, I gave up.  Over the last few years, hand sanitizer was a popular gift from mortgage lenders trying to win my business. I had a few little bottles saved, three, to be precise.  I hate to admit I may have tossed some away. What a mistake.  Scrupulously washing my hands and using hand sanitizer now, both at my Destin real estate office (in Florida, real estate is an essential service) and in the car, I am starting to run low.  Horrors!

Many of the online do-it-yourself sites say to make home-made hand sanitizer with 60% isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera.  I dug in my medicine cabinet and found we had 70% isopropyl alcohol. My engineer husband told me that it didn’t matter. I was a little worried that I might burn my skin off with the wrong mixture, but I found my pre-made bottle of Purell advanced has 70% ethyl alchohol, (is ethyl alcohol the same as isopropyl alcohol?), so I felt a bit more confident.

Next, I grabbed a kitchen funnel, large glass measuring cup, bowl and paper towels to catch spills. I mixed up the alcohol and aloe vera with a spoon in the measuring cup, one-third aloe vera and two-thirds isopropyl alchohol (some online formulas vary), then used the funnel to pour them into my bottles.  (I had fortunately saved some GoToob travel bottles that were perfect for this use!)

Voila!  My husband and I now have enough hand-sanitizer to get us through a couple months!

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.

Foreclosures Postponed in Florida for 45 Days – Destin FL

If you are having trouble paying your mortgage and are facing foreclosure in the Destin, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach areas, relief is available. There is now a moratorium on Florida foreclosures from April 2 through May 17, 2020, per order of Governor Ron DeSantis. Executive order 20-94 states that the COVID-19 emergency has impacted people’s ability to make single family residential mortgage payments. The order suspends “any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action” under Florida law and hints at an extension of the moratorium beyond the 45 days. This does not mean you are relieved of your mortgage debt, past due monies owed, nor future loss mitigation and foreclosure.

The new Florida foreclosure order mimics the foreclosure hold specified in the federal CARES Relief Act, but goes beyond it. The CARES Act only places a moratorium on federally backed mortgages, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, USDA and HUD.  The Florida foreclosure moratorium suspends foreclosures for any type of mortgage.

If you are experiencing difficulty making your mortgage payments, reach out to your lender or mortgage servicer for assistance. You may be eligible for forbearance of your payments for 90 or 180 days, or more. Be careful when requesting forbearance, as compared to mortgage deferment. With forbearance, your skipped payments may be due all at once at the end of the forbearance period. For example, if you are allowed to skip $6000 of mortgage payments for three months, at the end of three months, you would pay the $6000 back at once. Alternatively, your lender may offer you a loan modification at the end of the forbearance period, or offer to spread out the missed payments over several months.  Or, they may offer you reduced mortgage payments for 90 days or more. You would pay it back over a specified amount of months. A mortgage deferral, however, would allow you to add your missed payments to the end of the mortgage term.  Obtain clarity from your lender as to exactly what they are offering. Consider consulting with an attorney for further guidance.

Finally, you may be able to avoid foreclosure by short sale. If you are contemplating selling your Emerald Coast real estate, contact me to discuss how.

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,  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 Services – Essential – But Should You Sell?

Florida’s “Stay-At-Home” order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, limits many Destin, Niceville and Emerald Coast business activities, but allows real estate sales to continue.  Governor Ron DeSantis’ state-wide mandate requires Florida residents to  restrict their “movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.” But is it really wise to allow real estate sales transactions to continue?

Is it worth the risk to allow Realtors, buyers, inspectors, appraisers, repair persons and photographers to enter the premises and potentially catch or spread the lethal Coronavirus? Is it worth the risk to you and to others? Precautions aside (stay 6′ apart, hand sanitizer, virtual showings, etc.), should you even bother trying to sell when many buyers will not be in the market during this national crisis? (Why are there fewer buyers? Other states have “Stay-At-Home” orders, people are afraid, people are sick, there are limited monetary resources to make purchases, etc.)

There are cases, however,  when selling a Destin, Niceville or Fort Walton Beach home may still be necessary, as in emergency financial situations.  Some examples may be: the need to move out of state to care for a loved one, sell a property to garner cash funds to cover living expenses after job loss, vacant rental properties, divorce, death of a spouse, medical issues, retirement, Eglin AFB or Hurlburt Field PCS orders, etc. As an alternative to selling your house, condo or investment real estate, there may be other remedies that can help you through difficult financial situations.

The CARES Act addresses relief for federally backed mortgages, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, HUD, USDA, FHA (including reverse mortgages) with a means to defer payments for three months to a year.  There is a foreclosure moratorium for a year and a halt on pending foreclosures for 60 days as of now.  You will not be charged late fees nor negative credit reporting. If you call your lender and ask for a mortgage payment deferral, some large lenders will immediately tell you that you may skip your payments and they will be added to the end of the loan, extending the loan term. For example, if you have 40 months left on your mortgage, and you are allowed to skip three months, you will then have 43 months left on your loan term.  Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ally Bank are some examples.  In fact, even if you have a commercial mortgage, like I do with Wells Fargo, they will also defer your commercial mortgage payments.

Some mortgage lenders, however, are stating you must pay any missed payments back in one lump sum, at the end of the forbearance period.  Obviously, this won’t be feasible for most borrowers who have lost their jobs, significant income and savings during the Coronavirus crisis. In these cases, lenders may offer you a loan modification or agreement to spread out the past-due payments. According to Florida Realtors, this is incorrect, and most lenders will soon offer deferment of missed payments to the ends of the loan terms.

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, if you decide it’s your best course of action.

Reach out to me with any questions about short sale or traditional sale now or in the coming months.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

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

www.shortsales-emeraldcoast.com

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

New Florida COVID-19 Real Estate Addendum – Destin FL

 

Coronavirus affects Destin and Niceville Florida real estate contracts

How could the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic affect real estate transactions in Florida?  Could there be delays in closing and inspections?  Possibly. Therefore, Florida Realtors created a new contract addendum which can extend specific deadlines of the transaction.  The COVID-19 addendum says: “The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may cause unprecedented impacts to real estate transactions, including but not limited to travel restrictions, self-imposed and/or governmental required isolations, potential closures of offices and institutions required to fund, close and record real estate transactions, and action or inactions of a homeowners’ or condominium association.”

For example, if a buyer were flying to VPS airport to close on their new home, but at the last minute, air travel from their state or into Florida were blocked, that could delay a closing.  If the buyer’s home was to close first, but his state shuts down the title companies, that would affect closing.  Or if his buyer on his home could not close due to being ill with the virus. If a seller of a Destin property had Coronavirus and was self-isolating in the property, it could disrupt both inspections and the closing.  Businesses and entities that are necessary to close include lenders, title companies, attorneys, insurance companies, inspectors, county departments, like the Clerk of Court, and on and on. We don’t yet know to what extent real estate will be affected.

The Florida COVID-19 real estate contract addendum is here:

Florida Coronavirus Real Es… by Wendy Rulnick on Scribd

If you are considering selling your Emerald Coast real estate and are concerned about how the COVID-19 coronavirus may affect your sale, please contact me. We will walk through scenarios and precautions to help you decide “if, when, and how” you can accomplish your 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.

Mid-Bay Musings

It dawned on me today driving across the Mid-Bay Bridge that I end up in a reverie each time I cross it.  During my morning or evening commute from Bluewater Bay to Destin, I go through a similar mental routine.  First, my eyes gaze at the water of Choctawhatchee Bay. Is it dark and grey, like today, reflecting the cloud-laden sky, is it a deep blue, dotted with whitecaps during a choppy day, or is it a blue-green, with sailboats and speedboats zig-zagging about? After the water and the sky, I glance at the horizon. If it’s near sunset, such dazzling colors can appear, from a burnt-siena to fiery orange or violet and yellow, that it’s almost a hazard to driving. Who hasn’t tried to snap a photo of a dusky sky (as a passenger) crossing the Mid-Bay Bridge? Occasionally, at night, the moon and stars and planets put on a different show.

Coming south to Destin, I look for the American flag at Legendary Marine. The pole is 150′ tall, towering over the building and is a landmark nowadays. I think they have at least three versions. One is enormous, it looms over the horizon, the other two are smaller. I look at the flag to see which direction the wind is blowing and how strong. On a rare day, the flag and pole can look as one, with no wind.  The water then is a perfect mirror.  Near the top of the bridge, my mind goes to loved ones. I may call my husband, or my brother, or a friend. Invariably, when I call my husband, I’ll say “I’m at the top of the bridge” or “I’m about at the toll booth”.  I am usually listening to Sirius XM and depending on my mood, I change the station as I approach Niceville, home, or Destin – work, gym and fun.  It’s relaxing and also preparatory, depending on which direction I am going. Crossing the Mid-Bay Bridge takes perhaps 12 minutes.  That’s enough time for a pause and a meditation.

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 real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

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Top Home Decor Trends for 2020 – and they are simple

It’s officially February 2020. And with the new year comes a host of new design trends that will define the look and feel of interiors in 2020 (and beyond).

But what, exactly, are those design trends?

recent article from Forbes.com spoke to design experts to get their insights on the interior design trends they predict will be big in the upcoming year. Some of the biggest interior design trends set to hit in the new year include:

  1. Forgoing trends for unique, one-of-a-kind design. Interestingly, one of the biggest design trends of 2020? Bucking trends all together. Expect homeowners to forgo trends in favor of more unique design elements to create more custom, one-of-a-kind interiors.
  2. Patterns. While solid color palettes will always have a place in interior design, expect a variety of patterns to work their way into interior designs—with mixing patterns being all the rage.
  3. Contrasting ceilings. Taking a nod from art-deco design, expect bold, contrasting ceilings to take center stage in 2020.

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about selling your Destin, 30A or Niceville home, it’s important to stay on top of design trends; that way, you know what buyers want—and can stage your home accordingly.  Want to learn more? Download my FREE Booklet on how to prepare your home for sale and for top dollar.

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 real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.