Well it’s been quite a few weeks, and I hope everyone remains safe and well. Please keep to social distancing and do you part for our community. With that being said, I wanted to update you all on the real estate financing industry.
We at CrossCountry Mortgage, and many other mortgage lenders, we are open for business. We are accepting online and phone loan applications and we are in constant communication with our clients, real estate agents, attorneys, title insurance agents and local and state officials. It’s been a constantly changing environment and communication has been and will be paramount during this time.
New home purchases believe it or not are continuing. However it’s with a lot of changes. There is now social distancing and no more open houses (for the most part). There are virtual open houses and tours. Buyers can go into empty homes as well. With these adaptations, we are still seeing multiple offer situations. People are still buying houses
Refinances are still happening at a very brisk pace and are closing every day. I personally closed on my refinance Thursday at my home, at a 7 foot long table complete with Lysol, wipes and our own pens. Some attorneys are choosing to close outdoors too. However they choose, it’s being done safely with separation. We are also eager for a bill to be passed, which I understand is sponsored by our Senator Bruce Tarr, that will allow video closing and notarization. The rules thus far seem complex, but it is very encouraging nonetheless.
The Registry of Deeds are open for business, just not open to the public. The Essex South Registry in Salem, which is the Registry for Cape Ann and most of the North Shore, accepts electronic recording. They have for years, and this is nothing new. So Deeds and Mortgages can be recorded and closed just like they have been.
The Fire Departments have issued a smoke certificate inspection moratorium, so that is another item that’s not an issue. That responsibility will shift to the home buyers, instead of the home sellers.
Appraisals for new home purchases and many refinances can now be done via an Exterior Only so the appraiser does not need to into a home. This is not the case with FHA and VA loans, as those require inside inspections for functioning utilities. Also refinances for a better rate and term, often do not even require any appraisal at all (this was true before COVID 19 too). If you take equity out, then an appraisal is most likely. Your lender, like myself, should be able to tell you before you proceed with refinancing.
Municipalities are open for tax information so we can get up to date property tax info. If they are not, there are ways around that too.
Mortgage rates have seemed to lower and settle now with the stimulus bill that just passed. These lower 30 year and 15 year rates are only for traditional Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA and FHA loans (govt agencies). Jumbo loans now have much higher rates as that market has seemed to dry up overnight for those mortgages. This is because the government is pumping billions of money into mortgage bonds, driving down the yield. These bonds are only for conventional and government loans, like the aforementioned Fannie, Freddie, FHA and VA. The mortgage bond purchasing is not for jumbo and non-traditional mortgages. These government loans are not commonly found at local banks, but traditional mortgage lenders like CrossCountry Mortgage in Gloucester and Danvers.
So the home purchase market, refinances and mortgage market are quickly and constantly adapting and continuing business as best we can. In my next article coming this week, I am going to talk about what to be aware of when buying a house in this market, how to draft contracts to protect yourself in the case of a job loss (with the advice of an attorney) and other things to be aware of. during the COVID 19 pandemic.
If you have any home buying, homeownership questions or need assistance, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617.688.6891. I am here to help the best I can.
Lastly please continue to be safe, be well and helping others.