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.
Email Wendy: [email protected]
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.