Coronavirus: Santa Cruz Real Estate News & Resources

For most of us, the past few weeks have been quite a whirlwind. The news on COVID-19 seems to be changing daily. We are all scrambling to figure out our new normal, even if temporary. Small businesses worry about the long-term impact this coronavirus pandemic will have. At the end of this article, we have included some federal and local resources. These are helpful for small businesses and families in need.

The real estate industry is not immune to the effects of this global pandemic. Coronavirus continues to impact the real estate industry in many ways. When the initial shelter-in-place orders came down from Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19th, real estate was not listed as an essential industry. This nearly put a complete halt on all things real estate. Counties and individual brokerages across the state of California scrambled. We all worked to ensure agents and clients were complying with this mandate. Complying for their own protection and the protection of the general public. Open houses, broker tours, and even in-person showings were halted in most areas. For the next 9 days, many were questioning how homes would now be sold, and even if deals awaiting closing could be completed.

What is Essential During the Coronavirus?

On Friday, March 27th, the California Association of Realtors said that commercial and residential real estate services were newly included on the list of essential businesses for the state of California. Real estate agents and their support staff were no longer on the list requiring them to limit or stop operations and “stay at home”. However, there are many counties in California with stricter guidelines than this change at the state level. For example, the county shelter-in-place guidelines for Santa Cruz, and our surrounding counties – Monterey and Santa Clara, are stricter than the state guidelines. They were not updated to include real estate as an essential business as recent as yesterday. As of April 1st, Santa Cruz County joined the State of California in changing real estate to an essential industry. We are now on the approved list of businesses permitted to operate.

Reactions to this change at the state and county level have been mixed. Some questioning if real estate is truly “essential” during this coronavirus pandemic. However, what we know from our years of experience in the real estate industry is that there are a plethora of reasons why someone needs to sell or purchase a home. These reasons range anywhere from a death in the family or divorce to a necessary job relocation or an exciting addition to the family.

The reasons are often known to only a few. However, most would agree that no matter the timing – life events continue one. Helping people find shelter and a place to call home has always been essential to us. On the other hand, we are also painfully aware of the devastation this virus is causing across the world. We agree that the safety of our clients, colleagues, friends, families and ourselves is of the utmost importance.

It Is Not Just Back To Business As Usual

Entering the sector of essential business does not mean that the world of real estate is merely business as usual. Regardless of your individual county guidelines, even areas that will increase operations still must exercise extreme caution. Until further notice, no open houses and no broker’s tours will occur. Most brokerages have closed their offices with all agents and support staff working from home. Home showings must be virtual whenever possible. Homes that are vacant should have specific showing instructions that comply with all protocols that help protect against the spread of COVID-19, as deemed necessary by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We are not aware of any counties that are recommending in-person showings of occupied homes.

In fact, here is an excerpt from the county order itself, specifically about property showings at this time: Service providers that enable residential transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and other residential viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time who reside within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in-person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence)

Each and every real estate licensee must take careful action to protect the health and safety of their clients, their fellow licensees, and themselves. Furthermore, the Association also made it clear that if the health safeguards and protocols set forth by the governing bodies in our state and individual counties are not followed, the rules regarding real estate throughout this pandemic may be changed to stop or heavily restrict all real estate activity.

What Are We Doing About Coronavirus?

Here at The Mower Group, we are doing our best to continue with necessary operations to aid our clients, while still complying with our local county mandates and state and federal guidelines. We appreciate the efforts of our elected representatives, licensing bodies, and brokerage is taking to protect our health and the health of our fellow Santa Cruz County residents. We are still fielding phone calls, working on pending transactions, and providing our clients with A+ service. And, we are navigating this new work-from-home culture. Property showings must be kept to a limited and vital capacity. However, this only applies to homes that are currently vacant. Occupied properties on the market must do virtual tours only at this time.

Useful Resources

There are many individuals and families in need of support and resources during this time. Here are a few helpful resources for you or someone you know.

Small Business AdministrationThe Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans to most small businesses and non-profits that have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
www.nar.realtor

If you are a realtor and are unsure of how to proceed, the National Association of Realtors has put together a guide regarding coronavirus. This guide covers open-house guidance, transaction advice, and updated shelter-in-place information.
The Internal Revenue Service has a webpage strictly dedicated to coronavirus tax relief and federal stimulus information. Here you can find updated information on extended tax deadlines, stimulus payment checks, and other frequently asked questions and answers.

 

Santa Cruz County Bank is taking pre-applications for small business loans that are soon to be available under the Santa Cruz County BankCoronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This can help you get a head-start on utilizing the federal stimulus package. It passed to aid families and small business owners across the country.
The Mower Group! Please consider us as one of your resources. We will be providing you all regular updates regarding real estate news and developments in Santa Cruz County. We are here to answer any of your questions about the market and the COVID-19 guidelines. And, we are following the changes that are continuously coming out.

Contact Us – We are Here to Help! the mower group

The Mower Group! Please consider us as one of your resources. We will be providing you all regular updates regarding real estate news and developments in Santa Cruz County. We are here to answer any of your questions about the market, the COVID-19 guidelines, and changes that are continuously coming out. Or, let’s discuss anything else you may be wondering about.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us during this time of transition and uncertainty. We are closely following our county guidelines for the shelter-in-place. We are happy to share our knowledge of developments at the county and state levels. Whether you have questions about whether it’s a good time to refinance your home. Maybe you want to discuss the market in your area. Or, perhaps you merely want to chat about life in general. You can reach out to us! The Mower Group is here to help our clients, our friends, and anyone in need in our community, and hope that you will also use us as one of your resources.

Posted on April 3, 2020 at 10:58 pm
The Mower Group | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Coronavirus and Today’s Market: 3 Things You Should Know

We can all agree that things have been a little crazy out there lately. Some people may even say these times have been scary. The rapid spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the impact that this health crisis is having on our day to day life has been stressful for all of us. And while concerns over our health, the health of our loved ones, and everyone’s safety has been the main topic of conversation – we have also had a lot of clients and friends reaching out with questions about what impact this crisis is having on today’s housing market.

While we aren’t sure exactly what the future holds, we know what is happening in the market for us currently – today. There are three things that we think you all should know, and that we want to share with you.

The Market is Still Moving Despite Coronavirus

While many people feared that the Coronavirus would have a detrimental effect on the housing market, we have not personally seen this to be the case yet. With the help of the California Association of Realtors (CAR), the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors (SCCAR), and our brokerage David Lyng, we have all been working hard to ensure that home buying and home selling is a safe process for our clients through this time. And with proper precautions in place,housing market  we have seen both buyers and sellers continue to move forward on real estate transactions.
Santa Cruz County, like many other California counties, is on a mandatory shelter-in-place order. With this order naturally, some aspects of buying or selling a home are going to slow down. Activities outside the home should be limited to essential activities only.

Therefore, if you are already in contract on a home purchase it is considered essential to continue with routine inspections and due diligence, per the timelines laid out in your Residential Purchase Agreement. If your home is already listed on the market, it is okay to continue to engage in essential duties required for your listing agreement between you and your agent.

We do not currently recommend in-person showings or open houses during this coronavirus pandemic. However, this does not mean our buyers are not still actively looking for their next home. The Mower Group, along with many of our colleagues, are now aiding buyers with virtual tours of homes. This and other creative avenues help to pass the time in a constructive manner and still work towards reaching that end goal – a new place to call home.

Interest Rates! Interest Rates! And More on Interest Rates!

While interest rates may be the last thing on the minds of many, this is actually a very applicable and important topic in regards to the real estate market. The Federal Reserve has been working hard to shield the economy from the coronavirus health crisis. Their stimulus plan included quite a few policies to aid financial markets, and one of these was another slash to interest rates.


Mortgage rates are low right now – but don’t worry about rushing to refinance immediately. Many economic analysts think they will go even lower, but this is not certain. The Federal Reserve just cut borrowing costs to nearly zero on Sunday. However, it will take time for the lower rates to filter through the economy.
This doesn’t mean mortgage interest rates will be zero. However, the Federal Reserve’s key short-term rate affects 30-year mortgages and other long-term rates indirectly. Mortgage rates are low right now, and if they do end up going even lower, this is significant for home buyers. Whether you are looking to purchase a new home, or refinance your current mortgage loan, now may be the right time. Many people are already taking advantage of this, with reports of mortgage applications surging in the past month.

If you are wondering if you are eligible to refinance, or want to know what purchase price you could qualify for under these new mortgage interest rates, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Mower Group. We work with an amazing mortgage broker who we are confident can help any of our clients and friends with their lending needs.

Spring Cleaning = Listings That are Gleaming!

All of this time required in our homes is a perfect opportunity to catch up on those household chores and projects we’ve all let slide. Are you planning on listing your home this spring or summer? Now is the perfect time to spend your days cleaning out closets, organizing garages and sheds, and even working on some landscaping and gardening. The more effort you put into keeping your home clean, safe, and esthetically pleasing, the bigger your reward will be when you decide to sell.
Our homes are our safe havens, now more than ever! They need our love and attention too, and we think this is a perfect opportunity to invest your time and energy into your home. Whether you are planning to sell or you intend to stay where you are for many more years to come, we hope you can find a way to use this time to improve your most valuable asset – your home.

We’re All In This Together

We know that this time is filled with uncertainties. Change can be scary, but it is important to remind ourselves and each other that we have all dealt with and survived change before. We have never encountered anything quite like coronavirus before, at least not in our lifetime. However, we have all weathered many “storms” together and we would like to remind you of a few.
As a county, we have battled flooding and most recently severe storm damage and mudslides in 2017. As a state, we have battled California wildfires, and have all come together many times to support those displaced and in need. And as a nation, we have battled hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and the devastation of the September 11th attacks in 2001. In each of these instances, we experienced fear, panic, and distress. But in each one, we also experienced love, comradery, and humanity.
We are confident that as a county, a state, a nation, and a world – we will overcome this global health crisis too. Everyone, please do your best to keep your head high, your spirits up, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need any help during this time.

Posted on March 18, 2020 at 10:51 pm
The Mower Group | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,