Real Estate in the Time of Covid-19
It feels like an entire year has passed since my January newsletter. So much has happened since then, and times have certainly changed. I'm changing my focus, too. It's always been important to me to be your go-to resource in real estate. Now? More than ever. Here I'll update you on the current status of the housing market, and provide a gathering platform for resources. There's a glut of information out there, and not all of it is useful, or true - so while I'm sure you've been inundated with tips and advice, I've held off releasing anything until the dust had settled, and resources were more reliable and direct. As always, I'm here to help and answer questions...and I have plenty of time for that right now, too! I want you to know I am here to help you with anything, so please reach out if I can be of any service as a friend or your Realtor.
Let's start with the market quickly. For most, real estate is NOT an essential service at this time, and many can postpone listing their homes for sale, or purchasing a home. Scout is adapting and we’ve already mastered Zoom meetings and the various digital ways of doing things, best we can. Of course, there are certain circumstances where buying/selling IS considered an emergency, or highly urgent, and some realtors are taking extra precautions in the best interests of their clients and doing whatever they can. So, how’s the housing market doing? It's COMPLICATED. Due to our massive housing shortage in Portland, the homes being listed are still experiencing multiple offers, probably in part because a lot of sellers are holding off on listing, creating a demand on the homes that are being listed, amidst the pandemic. This could change, but in general compared to the rest of the country, I'm confident we will likely see less shift and continued activity amidst current events. It's a wild ride we're on, and I'll be here to give it to you, straight no matter what, though.
RESOURCES FOR HOMEOWNERS
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac:
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac have tools for homeowners for relief related to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Does Fannie Mae own your loan? Find out here.
- Does Freddie Mac own your loan? Find out here.
- If your loan is with Fannie Mae, click here for help.
- If your loan is with Freddie Mac, click here for help.
- Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline: Get free housing counseling and immediate assistance. Available online at www.995HOPE.org or via phone at 888-995-HOPE (4673)
- Avoiding Foreclosure: Advice for how to stay in your home, leave your home, or explore reverse mortgages.
- Look up your mortgage company to contact them directly about assistance
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Housing Counseling:
HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies around the country that provide advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and other housing-related issues.
RESOURCES FOR TENANTS
Moratoriums on Evictions: The State of Oregon and many other cities and counties have imposed a moratorium on residential evictions on the basis of nonpayment of rent due to wage loss resulting from COVID-19.
- Oregon State Governor Executive Order 20-11
- Details for City of Portland/Multnomah County Residents
- Details for Clackamas County Residents
Oregon Community Alliance of Tenants: The Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) is a statewide, tenant-controlled, tenant-rights organization. CAT's mission is to educate and empower tenants to demand safe, stable and affordable rental homes.
RESOURCES FOR EVERYONE
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): CFPB works to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and provide people with the information, steps, and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions. They provide specific steps for how to protect yourself financially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS has extended the deadline for personal tax returns from April 15th to July 15th. You can find their current tax relief efforts related to COVID-19 here.
State of Oregon Unemployment Insurance: click here for information on COVID-19 related business layoffs, closures, and unemployment insurance benefits for workers, employers, and job seekers.
Help Paying Bills or Rent: There are many organizations in Oregon that offer assistance to those struggling financially.
- 211info is a nonprofit organization that helps people in Oregon and Southwest Washington identify, navigate and connect with the local resources they need. Click here to see what resources may be available to you.
- Home Forward is a local government agency that provides access to affordable housing and services, including help paying your rent or mortgage. Click here for information on receiving help to pay your rent.
- Impact NW is a non profit that works to prevent homelessness in our community. Learn more about the services they offer here.
- Help with Utilities: local utilities, including Portland Water Bureau, Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, Northwest Natural Gas will not be shutting off service or charging late fees during the current COVID-19 crisis.
- Other Bills: Some internet and cable providers like Comcast/Xfinity and CenturyLink are suspending disconnections and fees right now. **Please note: you must contact Comcast/Xfinity directly to receive this support.**
Banks: individual banks announced their own policies for helping consumers, including mortgage holders and credit card customers
- National Banks:
- Local & Regional Banks:
- Credit Unions:
RESOURCES FOR BUSINESS OWNERS:
Business Portland has a list of resources for Oregon businesses looking for assistance due to the COVID-19 crisis.
U.S. Small Business Association (SBA): SBA has put together a list of Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources that includes advice, loan programs, government contracting and local assistance.
Greater Portland, Inc is also a great source for local businesses in need of assistance. Their Resources for Greater Portland Businesses page includes City, County, Regional, Oregon, Washington, and National/Federal resources as well as advice, and webinars.
Travel Portland has compiled a list of local and national resources for local businesses impacted by the crisis.
Business for a Better Portland created the BBPDX Switchboard for local business owners to share information and resources, best practices, find answers, and build community.
The City of Portland has created an emergency fund for small businesses located in Portland’s Jade District or Old Town Chinatown. Asian and Pacific Islander business owners will be prioritized.
Facebook has announced a Small Business Grants Program which will distribute cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.
Forbes has compiled a list of free software that businesses and schools can use during the COVID-19 Crisis
Various relief funds have been created for restaurant owners and food service workers, including the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund and the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund
Opportunity Fund is providing grants and low-interest rate loans to businesses owned by women, immigrants and people of color.
We know this is all a lot to handle right now. If you're in distress and need help, there are Crisis Lines available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help:
- Multnomah County: 503-988-4888
- Clackamas County: 503-655-8585
- Washington County: 503-291-9111
- Southwest Washington: 1-800-626-8137
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
- Lines for Life are with you, 24/7 with free, confidential, and anonymous help. Their highly trained staff and volunteers provide immediate assistance, compassionate support, and resource referrals that can put you on a path to healing. Please remember help on the phone is always available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and interpreters are available.
- Suicide Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 800-923-4357
- Military Helpline: 888-457-4838
- Seniors: 503-200-1633
- Youth: 877-968-8491
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
- Text 838255
- Chat online
There are additional mental health resources available here from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
If you are facing a life-threatening emergency, please dial 911.
Unfortunately, times of uncertainty and crisis also bring out scam artists. Beware of anyone contacting you with an offer that seems too good to be true - they often are! Visit the Fannie Mae website for information on how to spot a scam.
Huge thanks to Think Real Estate for the use of their resources list!
As you likely already know, I am an avid backyard gardener, and love to live off the fresh produce I've nurtured throughout spring. Well guess what? Everyone's caught the backyard gardener bug, and the online ordering of vegetable and herb seeds have skyrocketed. You may have seen mention of "Victory Garden" lately? Also known as "war gardens" or "food gardens for defense", these are really just a throwback to WWI and WWII, where American, Canadian, Australian, English, and German citizens were encouraged to grow their own produce, in their back yards, and in public common areas. It was seen as a way to boost rations, and morale. After all, everyone knows the mental health benefits of digging around in the soil and watching something grow from seed. Here's some pics of my 2020 victory garden, and I'd love to see yours, too! What are you hoping to grow over the next few months? I would love to be a resource if you need any tips or tricks!
Communities Coming Together
It's no surprise that Portlanders are rallying to support each other during the pandemic, from delivering groceries and medicine to vulnerable neighbors, to sewing masks for our emergency responders. We're also supporting our favorite local businesses, and working to keep artists and the service industry peeps afloat. It's easy to get overwhelmed and wonder, "Well, what can I do?"
I'd recommend finding one area of focus, and sticking to that. Here's your chance to apply your skills and resources to help others in need. Are you an amazing sewer with a fat stack of fabric? You can learn to make masks with a tutorial, here. My talented sister has already been knocking these out (see pic!), and gifting them to those in the medical community - so proud of her!
Are you looking to stay better connected to your local community, and maybe help an elderly or vulnerable neighbor in need? Now's a great time to join your local Buy Nothing group, if you haven't already, and get to know your neighbors!
While being online right now can be a little scary (it's hard to avoid bad news right now), it's also proving to be very successful in what it was originally designed to do - bring us together, keep us informed, and provide us with access to information and resources. Find your niche, and get to work! I bet it will lift your spirits as it has mine to serve my community.
I'm so, SO thankful to not be stuck home alone right now (and sending lots of love and digital hugs to those who are!), because you're never really alone when you have a cat. My kitties, Gus and Sufi, have provided so much comfort. I've been cooking more than ever (and freezing portions for those days I just don't want to cook), taking lots of walks in this pretty spring weather (and keeping my distance!), working out at home, playing guitar, and de-cluttering and CLEANING. There are silver linings to this situation we all find ourselves in, and from what I see, everyone's doing their best to get by. Truly no pressure on this front, but if you feel you may want to list your home this year, why not take advantage of home time (if you get anything done, cough, looking at the hero parents out there with kiddos, I realize this is NOT possible) and knock out some to-do’s around the house if you can. Just an idea. We can do a virtual walk through via Facetime if it would help organize your game plan! Please let me know how or if I can help you during this time.
Important Resources & Links
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