How To Fight an Eviction During the Coronavirus Pandemic

EvictionPeter Dazeley / Getty Images

Eviction may soon become a reality for millions of American renters.

In March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent in homes with federally backed mortgages. But this program ended on July 24.

As a result, an estimated 20% of the 110 million Americans who rent their homes are at risk for eviction by Sept. 30, according to a report by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a group of economic researchers and legal experts working to better understand the housing, homeless, and community recovery during the pandemic.

“We anticipate a flood of evictions because many tenants won’t be able to pay the back rent, and it will be due,” says Deborah Thrope, deputy director at the National Housing Law Project, a housing and legal advocacy nonprofit.

“The eviction moratorium is simply a pause. It’s not rent cancelation,” Thrope says.

But even if you’re struggling to pay rent, this doesn’t mean an eviction is your only choice. Here’s an overview of some of the steps you can take to fight an eviction.

Talk to your landlord ASAP

“The best advice I can give tenants when their financial situation starts to deteriorate is to communicate with your landlord,” says Marina Vaamonde, a real estate investor in Houston and founder of HouseCashin. “Their willingness to have a discussion is the only way tenants can come to a resolution without going to court.”

According to a recent survey of landlords by the American Apartment Owners Association, 67% said they would be willing to offer tenants a rent deferment if they needed it.

So if you know you can’t make your next rent payment, reach out to your landlord as soon as possible. Waiting until after you get an eviction notice may be too late, and your landlord may be less likely to work with you. Your landlord could also already be in the process of filing the eviction with the court, and have paid fees to do so, which may make him more likely to follow through.

“There are a number of things you can negotiate with your landlord,” Thrope says. Some options to consider include a rent repayment agreement, shortening the terms of your lease, or possibly getting out of your lease altogether.

Learn how COVID-19 moratoriums apply to you

Eviction laws vary drastically across the country at the state and even city level, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it all even more complicated. Along with the CARES Act eviction moratorium, states and municipalities issued their own mandates to pause evictions. So make sure to read up on the eviction laws in your area specifically to better understand what your landlord is legally allowed and not allowed to do.

“Once you understand your legal rights, you’ll know your options,” Thrope says. “We have this patchwork of policy all across the country right now, so it’s important to know the local law and tenant protections.”

One resource for finding out the statutes of local eviction laws is the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which created a nationwide database. The group has also developed a state-by-state COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, tracking states’ responses to evictions and during the pandemic.

NHLP also has local and national online resources for renters and homeowners during the pandemic.

Make sure your landlord gives you adequate notice

Landlords usually have the legal right to evict tenants for not paying rent, violating a lease, causing damage to the property, or engaging in illegal activity at the home.

Most states require landlords to give an adequate notice of eviction with a deadline to pay rent or move out and the amount owed. If you don’t meet the deadline, the landlord can file a lawsuit to evict you.

But if landlords don’t provide adequate notice of eviction, Vaamonde says a judge will often throw out the case.

In Texas, for example, landlords must provide an official three-day notice to vacate the property with the reason for the eviction, and can file an eviction hearing with the court if the tenant doesn’t respond or move out.

Landlords are also prohibited from taking extreme actions during the eviction process, like changing the locks or cutting off utilities.

Attend your eviction hearing

After being closed because of the pandemic, eviction courts are beginning to reopen across the country, and are moving cases through quickly to clear up the backlog of evictions.

If your landlord files for an eviction in court, you will receive a notice to appear for the hearing. It’s important to show up, especially if you hope to fight the case. You have the right to examine and present evidence and bring witnesses, Thrope says.

“Showing up to the eviction hearing at the courthouse is the only way to receive some form of leniency,” Vaamonde says. “If the landlord wants you out of his property, the judge is the only one with the authority to defer your eviction.”

Since the pandemic has made showing up to court more difficult and dangerous, many proceedings are being held virtually, with tenants expected to appear by phone or videoconference. This may be easier for some tenants, but Thrope says in other cases, it can interfere with due process for some tenants who may not have access to the technology. It also makes it more difficult to look over evidence or converse with attorneys. Make sure you know when, where, and how you’re supposed to show up in court to make sure you do what you can to present your case.

“We hope that courts understand that this is a public health crisis, and that people sheltering in their homes is one of the remedies,” Thrope says. “To put people on the street right now is only going to exacerbate this crisis, so we hope courts will do the right thing.”

Consult an attorney

Fighting an eviction alone is overwhelming for many tenants since the process is so complex. Thrope urges tenants facing eviction to hire an attorney or contact local legal aid organizations.

“Reach out for legal assistance,” she says. “That’s really important because you need to understand what protections you can avail yourself locally.”

A lawyer can help explain whether you’re protected by the CARES Act or other local mandate, as well as how regular eviction laws apply in your situation and what exactly you need to do to fight an eviction.

A lawyer will also help you gather documentation to use as evidence, such as proof of past rent payments or that you lost your job, and any communication that you had with your landlord.

“Most tenants are not represented,” she says. “Some tenants may be savvy enough to [represent themselves], but it’s a legal process. We have the right to counsel, and it’s really critical here.”

The post How To Fight an Eviction During the Coronavirus Pandemic appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups

Park in San Francisco social distancingDavid Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of real-estate startups is aiming to cash in on the remote-work phenomenon.

With many corporate offices closed because of the pandemic, many young professionals have left cities like New York and San Francisco for warmer, cheaper places. A number still plan to return after their offices reopen, leaving them reluctant to buy homes or sign long-term apartment leases.

That situation is creating fresh demand for furnished housing on a short-term basis, a fast-growing niche that many property startups and their venture-capital backers are rushing to fill.

One of them is Landing, which runs a network of furnished apartments across the U.S. When it launched in 2019, the Birmingham, Ala., and San Francisco-based company initially planned to operate in about 30 cities last year. Instead, it expanded to 75, largely because demand grew much faster than expected, said Landing Chief Executive Bill Smith.

“Covid has taken a decade of change that I was thinking was going to happen between now and 2030 and kind of compressed it into a year,” he said.

Legions of remote workers also offer these firms a chance to make up for reduced tourist and corporate business. San Francisco-based Sonder, which rents out furnished apartments by the night, ramped up its marketing of extended stays during the pandemic, according to Chief Executive Francis Davidson. Stays of longer than 14 days now account for about 60% of the company’s business, up from less than a quarter before the pandemic, he said.

Kulveer Taggar, CEO of corporate-housing operator Zeus Living, said his firm experienced a steep drop in demand as companies hit the pause button on employee travel and relocations. But he was able to make up some ground by renting apartments to individuals. People working from home now account for about a quarter of the company’s business, Mr. Taggar said, up from virtually nothing before the pandemic.

Unlike Sonder and Zeus, remote workers were a key part of Landing’s business before the pandemic. Its customers pay an annual membership fee, which gives them the right to rent furnished apartments in any city. The minimum length of stay varies from 30 to 60 days, and the company asks for a month’s notice before a customer moves out.

The company is popular with college-educated young professionals who don’t want to be tied to a single location. Since the start of the pandemic, it has seen a growing number of customers leave New York and San Francisco and move to cities like St. Petersburg, Fla., and Denver, Mr. Smith said.

In November, Landing raised $45 million in venture funding from a group of investors led by Foundry Group and including Greycroft and Maveron, along with $55 million in debt. Mr. Smith said he hopes to expand to 25,000 apartments by the end of this year, up from around 10,000 today.

That growth carries risk if demand from remote workers were to disappear again after the pandemic is over. Still, Chris Moody, a partner at Foundry Group, said the number of furnished apartments available under flexible terms is still so small that he doesn’t worry about a lack of customers.

“Even at the end of 2021, we won’t really have scratched the surface,” he said.

The post Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

The Commercial Space Post-COVID – With Cove CEO Adam Segal

A recent Q & A we had with Adam Segal, CEO + Founder of Washington D.C. based Cove offers a picture window into the future of business. What was intended to be a real estate technology informative, turned out to be a glimpse of what the post-COVID world of real estate may look like. Initially focused on creating a network of co-working spaces to foster efficiency and productivity in the digital age, Segal’s company’s ship may have just arrived in the form of a world cataclysm. 

Cove logo

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing a paradigm shift for every business and institution on Earth. The world is turned upsidedown, and the only sure thing people can cling to, for the moment, is uncertainty. The daily grind, the 9-5, in contrast to the homogenization of the digital and the physical world, is creating catastrophes and vast opportunities for the future. And Cove sits smack in the middle of what most experts think will be the transition of transitions not just in real estate, but for business in general. I exchanged emails with the Cove CEO this past week, since catching up with him via phone proved impossible. Here’s the brief interview, followed by some takeaway points. 

RealtyBiz: How do you see commercial property marketing shaping up in the post-COVID era?

Adam Segal: At Cove, we believe commercial real estate will still have a place in a post-COVID era. In fact, it will transform from a place for your dedicated desk into an absolute key business resource to define culture and engagement. Traditionally, there has been a strong emphasis on your everyday desk or office. Moving forward, companies will consider where and how people are most productive, thereby enabling employees greater flexibility to choose when and where they work. The office will morph into a place to come together as opposed to being the required 9-5, everyday solution. For employees, this is an incredibly exciting future — as soon as you are no longer tied to a single desk or office, you have the freedom to design your life without your employer’s office location and long commutes as the deciding factor. At Cove, we provide the technology and service to support that future world for companies, while empowering office building owners a partner to create modern experiences integral to the future of work.

RealtyBiz: Some experts see the negative pricing trend for commercial property continuing to spiral downward. What is your view on this trend, and how can owners/developers prepare?

Adam Segal: When there is an increase in demand, differentiation becomes the absolute key. For those assets that are able to capture the future of work and unlock a differentiated experience, there will not be a downward spiral — in fact, just the opposite.

RealtyBiz: How do you see your business at Cove changing to address this new landscape? 

Adam Segal: Cove implements a modern consumer approach to the future of work for companies and owners of office buildings. Our focus is on building an experience around the office by building robust tools to bring everything online — from scheduling and coordinating your team to reduce capacity, unlocking onsite services and delivery, real-time updates — really a gateway to a modern work experience. The post-pandemic office will look nothing like the office of yesterday. In the future, the office will no longer be a home for your desk. Instead, the office will be a resource to bring people together for meaningful engagement. As a result, every company will need more intentional and coordinated office days for collaboration. The future of work for any company will include a mix of working remotely, in office, on travel — but now a real focus on productivity as opposed to a default 9-5, Monday through Friday culture. 

The Takeaway

According to Crunchbase, Cove is funded by Early Light Ventures. My takeaway on their investment, given the current state of transformation in business, is that those investors are smiling great big about now. $8.4 million in total funding could well turn into 100 times that figure. Here’s why.

Whatever benefits the remote office had before COVID-19, those benefits have been multiplied by 10,000 now. Furthermore, whichever businesses chose to optimize their buildings using Cove services before the pandemic, those clients are the leading edge of what physical office space will be in the future. Think about the whole situation like this. Once corporations and smaller entities make the adjustments for distancing, access assurance, safety measures, and added efficiency, how many do you think will switch back to business as usual? I should not have to spell out Cove’s potential here. From custom virtual events to building access management, Cove had a finger on the pulse of office buildings to start with. The next generation of office space will be all about remote work and managing a new kind of physical space. Who better to help transform the work at home corporate synergy? So, Cove has one of those rare opportunities brought about by the cosmos.

The post The Commercial Space Post-COVID – With Cove CEO Adam Segal appeared first on RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News.

Source: realtybiznews.com

Orchard expands to Houston, East Coast

Orchard announced Tuesday its immediate availability to consumers in Houston, as well as future expansion into Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and the Washington, D.C. suburbs in the upcoming months.

Court Cunningham, chief executive officer and co-founder, said he’s excited for Orchard to help consumers in the new markets, where demand has outpaced inventory.

“We’ll make it easier for home buyers in these markets to secure their dream home as soon as they see it, while still selling their old home for top dollar,” he said.

Cunningham added that the Move First initiative, Orchard’s program allowing homeowners to buy their next home before selling their old one, proved popular during the COVID-19 pandemic because it let consumers avoid living in their old home while potential homebuyers toured it.

“Buying and selling homes the traditional way isn’t sufficient in today’s hyper-competitive market,” he said. “With demand at an all-time high, people need to make offers – ideally in cash – without contingencies.”

Houston, according to multiple listing service data, is selling homes above price at triple the rate of 2019, and Cunningham added that the number of homes going under contract within 30 days of listing has increased by 50%.

Orchard adds Houston to a service area that includes Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Denver, and Atlanta.

Originally called Perch, Orchard branched into the lending business in July. This followed the creation of a title and escrow unit, dubbed Orchard Title, in the fall of 2018. It also closed on a $69 million Series C round led by Revolution Growth in September.

In October, Orchard announced the launch of a digital platform that enables homeowners to manage the entire real estate transaction in one place.

The post Orchard expands to Houston, East Coast appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

Mortgage rates remain at record-low levels

After falling to the lowest rate in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey’s near 50-year-history last week, the average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained at a survey-low 2.67% this week.

Last week’s announcement of a 2.67% rate broke the previous record set on Dec. 3, and was the first time the survey reported rates below 2.7%.

The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage also fell this week to 2.17% from 2.19%. One year ago, 15-year average fixed rates were reported at 3.16%.

“All eyes have been on mortgage rates this year, especially the 30-year fixed-rate, which has dropped more than one percentage point over the last twelve months, driving housing market activity in 2020,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Heading into 2021 we expect rates to remain flat, potentially rising modestly off their record low, but solid purchase demand and tight inventory will continue to put pressure on housing markets as well as house price growth.”

Freddie Mac has reported survey-low rates 16 times in 2020, proving beneficial to borrowers looking to buy or refinance a home amid economic turmoil outside of the industry.

Mortgage spreads continue to compress, per Freddie Mac officials, with the 10-year Treasury yield remaining at or above 90 basis points through the beginning of December.

This week’s 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.71%, down from last week when it averaged 2.79%. That’s another sharp drop-off from this time last year, when the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46%.

The Federal Open Market Committee revealed earlier this month that the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates low until labor market conditions and inflation meet the committee’s standards. Overall, Fed purchases have helped to drive mortgage rates and other loan interest rates to the lowest level on record by boosting competition for bonds.

Higher rates may be around the corner, as the calendar flips to 2021 and the promise of a second COVID-19 stimulus check along with a vaccine reaches consumers. The Mortgage Bankers Association has forecasted rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans rising to an average of 3.2% by the end of 2021.

But if the virus is not controlled in the new year, investors may remain cautious and consumer confidence could wane – keeping rates low, according to the MBA.

The post Mortgage rates remain at record-low levels appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com