Monthly Archives: July 2021

Is the Office Back?

BOSTON – Julie Whelan thought she understood how offices would change in a post-pandemic world.

As a lead researcher a CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, she had spent a lot of time identifying trends that would shape how a reimagined workplace would look: More safety features, more communication devices and an atmosphere that encouraged productivity.

Still, when she stepped into her redesigned, super tech-enabled Boston office at her firm, Whelan felt disoriented.

Unlike her old office, the new space was bright with natural light and had no assigned desks. The workstations were empty except for hand sanitizers. The desks had no family pictures or piles of paper (think deep clean-friendly). A two-sided color-coded card on the desk would let her know if it had been cleaned after someone else had used it. Once she absorbed the changes, however, Whelan felt reassured by the design.

“I was able to go in and pick the desk that I felt comfortable sitting in,” she said.

The office also had a staircase with stadium-type seating, a living moss wall and Liquid Galaxy, which used a cluster of computers and multiple displays that could provide an immersive, panoramic view of real estate properties anywhere in the world.

More than a year after offices across the country closed during the coronavirus lockdown, companies are preparing for employees to return as COVID-19 vaccinations pick up. In many cases, those workplaces could feel very unfamiliar, with reconfigured office layouts designed to encourage social distancing and sanitization even as workers collaborate.

The most popular amenities for landlords and tenants are safety features such as app-enabled elevators, food dispensers and reservation systems for workstations.

Then there are the microbe-zapping UV lights either built into the ceiling or emitted by roving robots.

In New York, many landlords in office buildings are stepping up their designs and technology to meet the changing demand of tenants, says Ryan Alexander, a CBRE executive vice president in New York City.

“There are thermal scanners in the lobby to take your temperature, hand scanners for touchless entry into buildings. If you’re visiting a client or a company, they send you a guest barcode to your phone that you just scan,” he says.

Is the office back?

Even as companies prepare for a hybrid model of work, with employees working from home many days, experts say the office isn’t going anywhere.

Seventy percent of office workers believe their workplaces are more conducive to collaborating with colleagues, solving complex issues, managing staff and connecting with leadership, according to a November 2020 report by JLL, a global commercial real estate services company headquartered in Chicago, which surveyed more than 2,000 global office workers.

At the same time, many companies are rethinking the role of the office, its design and the accompanying technology.

First, companies are looking to set up offices with hygiene as a priority.

“Clients are doing everything touchless, from bathroom faucets to elevator entries,” says Albert De Plazaola, a principal at Unispace, a global workspace expert.

“There are apps out there that will pretty much design your day,” he says. “We call them the digital concierge.”

He also is seeing the use of materials such as stainless steel and copper to reduce the spread of germs.

One of the big ideas to emerge now is the creation of flexible spaces that can be broken down and rearranged as needed.

Furniture and retractable doors, for example, can create separate areas.

Even though most companies have made some investments, like in air purifiers and filtration systems, major changes to offices might not be immediate, says Steve Stratton, JLL’s chairman of Headquarters Practice Group.

That’s because it’s still unclear how much offices will be used after companies make big investments.

And paying for these changes will be expensive.

Many companies are spending an average of about $40 per square foot to upgrade the technology in their space, says Christian Beaudoin, a managing director of research at JLL.

“We have several clients who are spending more than that, and others which are investing less,” he said. “An aggregate number across the country is difficult to know for certain, but based on the rentable market across the U.S., it could total up to $160 billion over time.”

Beaudoin says most companies have not invested significantly in capital projects to renovate their spaces.

They are taking the approach of measuring their employee attendance over the next several months to get a more complete understanding of their workplace needs.

The concern of the real estate decision-makers and financial C-suite is not knowing what happens after 2022,” Stratton says. “It’s a new way of working, working from home, working in a hybrid model,” he says “It’s a major capital investment.”

While it is easier to make changes to projects that were already under construction before the pandemic began, retrofitting legacy offices can still be expensive.

That was true for Fredrikson & Byron, a law firm headquartered in Minneapolis. While the firm upgraded its offices in many states with plexiglass-divided workstations in multiple states, its Des Moines, Iowa, office was in the process of moving to a new space when the pandemic hit.

Bridget Penick, a lawyer who co-leads the firm’s Des Moines office, says the timing allowed her firm, which worked with Unispace, to include several solutions in response to the pandemic.

One was making sure all the offices for the attorneys had glass doors to draw in natural light, to boost a sense of well-being among employees. The firm also added retractable doors to a conference room to accommodate large gatherings for events and which could be closed off for privacy.

They also installed vegetation and plants between stations as a physical barrier as well as to get oxygen in the room circulating. The floors are polished concrete.

“Most law offices, if you think about them are kind of opulent and rich and a lot of material and carpeting,” Penick says. “But we wanted surfaces that were easily cleanable and durable. All the hallways and common areas have concrete floors. They can literally be bleached if we need to.”

Whelan, of CBRE, says the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already unfolding.

“A lot of organizations are now recognizing that these design changes need to happen to not only support a more modern worker but are also more efficient for the company,” she says. “My own office feels much more spacious, much cleaner and much more energetic despite the lack of people.”

Copyright © 2021, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy


Housing Providers Can’t Continue to Live in Financial Hardship

NAR is ready to oppose any “unreasonable effort by Congress to extend the (eviction) ban without assistance for small housing providers,” says Chief Advocacy Officer McGahn.

WASHINGTON – The Biden Administration on Thursday said it would not attempt to unilaterally extend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national eviction moratorium, allowing it to expire on July 31. 

In a statement, the White House acknowledged a recent Supreme Court ruling on the issue, saying, “. . . the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

President Biden is now asking Congress to intervene and extend the ban.

“NAR is prepared to oppose vigorously any unreasonable effort by Congress to extend the ban without assistance for small housing providers,” says Shannon McGahn, chief advocacy officer for NAR. “We have argued all along that the best solution for all parties is rental assistance for tenants in need paid directly to housing providers. Nearly half of all rental housing in America is a mom-and-pop operation, and these providers cannot continue to live in a state of financial hardship.”

“With the economy improving, rental assistance now available in all 50 states, and millions of unfilled jobs, it is time to return the housing market to its former, healthy function,” McGahn says.

The CDC ban has been in place since September 2020. It was first imposed by the Trump Administration and then extended multiple times by the Biden Administration.

With many mom-and-pop housing providers facing financial ruin and unable to pay their bills or keep up their properties, NAR launched a massive advocacy effort last year to secure rental assistance for tenants. Nearly $50 billion was obtained through two pieces of legislation.

As a result of subsequent eviction ban extensions, however, the Georgia and Alabama associations of Realtors® and two housing providers – with NAR’s help – filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the CDC’s authority to impose the ban. In May, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia Dabney Friedrich ruled that the CDC exceeded its authority and sided with small housing providers, overturning the ban.

The ruling was put on hold pending appeal. The Georgia and Alabama associations appealed the stay to the D.C. Circuit Court; after their appeal was denied, the associations asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and immediately end the eviction ban.

In June, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the CDC exceeded its authority with the ban.

Four justices wanted to end it immediately. A fifth justice said explicitly the CDC exceeded its authority but allowed the ban to stay in effect a few more weeks to keep an orderly transition and provide more time for rental assistance distribution.

“With NAR’s support, the Alabama and Georgia Realtors® have achieved a tremendous victory for property rights that will reverberate far into the future,” McGahn says. “The Administration has now officially said any future national eviction ban would need to go through Congress.”

Tenants are now eligible for up to a year-and-a-half of back and future rent. Rental assistance guidance is available on NAR’s website.

Source: NAR

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


CDC’s Eviction Moratorium Has Expired

The Supreme Court had signaled the ban would only be extended to July 31. With the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, Biden is asking Congress to extend the fed eviction ban, but the prospects of legislative action are unclear.

BOSTON (AP) – The Biden administration announced Thursday it will allow a nationwide ban on evictions to expire July 31, arguing that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of July.

The White House said President Joe Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium due to spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Instead, Biden called on “Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”

“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the two are working on legislation to extend the moratorium. Democrats will try to pass a bill as soon as possible and are urging Republicans not to block it.

In the House, a bill was introduced Thursday to extend the moratorium until the end of the year. But the prospect of a legislative solution remained unclear.

The court mustered a bare 5-4 majority last month to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July. One of those in the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in June this would be the last time the moratorium would be extended when she set the deadline for July 31. It was initially put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Housing advocates and some lawmakers have called for the moratorium to be extended due to the increase in coronavirus cases and the fact so little rental assistance has been distributed.

Congress has allocated nearly $47 billion in assistance that is supposed to go to help tenants pay off months of back rent. But so far, only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion has been distributed through June by states and localities. Some states like New York have distributed almost nothing, while several have only approved a few million dollars.

“The confluence of the surging delta variant with 6.5 million families behind on rent and at risk of eviction when the moratorium expires demands immediate action,” said Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“The public health necessity of extended protections for renters is obvious. If federal court cases made a broad extension impossible, the Biden administration should implement all possible alternatives, including a more limited moratorium on federally backed properties.”

Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing implementation of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, said it was key that states and local authorities speed up the rental assistance distribution.

“The message is that there are no excuses,” he told The Associated Press.

“States and cities across the country have shown these programs can work, that they can get money out the door effectively and efficiently,” he continued. “The fact that some states and cities are showing they can do this efficiently and effectively makes clear that there is no reason that every state and city shouldn’t be accelerating their funds to landlords and tenants, particularly in light of the end of the CDC eviction moratorium.”

The trouble getting rental assistance to those who need it has prompted the Biden administration to hold several events in the past month aimed at pressuring states and cities to increase their distribution, coax landlords to participate and make it easier for tenants to get money directly.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also has released an open letter to state courts around the country encouraging them to pursue measures that would keep eviction cases out of the courts. On Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled a tool that allows tenants to find information about rental assistance in their area.

Despite these efforts, some Democratic lawmakers had demanded the administration extend the moratorium.

“This pandemic is not behind us, and our federal housing policies should reflect that stark reality. With the United States facing the most severe eviction crisis in its history, our local and state governments still need more time to distribute critical rental assistance to help keep a roof over the heads of our constituents,” Democratic U.S. Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Jimmy Gomez of California and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said in a joint statement.

But landlords, who have opposed the moratorium and challenged it repeatedly in court, were against any extension. They have argued the focus should be on speeding up the distribution of rental assistance.

This week, the National Apartment Association and several others this week filed a federal lawsuit asking for $26 billion in damages due to the impact of the moratorium.

“Any extension of the eviction moratorium equates to an unfunded government mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a costly service without compensation and saddles renters with insurmountable debt,” association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said, adding that the current crisis highlights the need for more affordable housing.

“Our nation faces an alarming housing affordability disaster on the horizon – it’s past time for the government to enact responsible and sustainable solutions that ultimately prioritize making both renters and housing providers whole,” he added.

Copyright © 2021 Associated Press, Michael Casey; Associated Press Supreme Court reporter Mark Sherman and congressional reporter Kevin Freking contributed from Washington. All rights reserved.


Where Homes Are Selling the Most Over (and Under) Asking Price

Realtor.com: Prices and demand for homes in the suburbs continue to rise; homes sold below asking price tend to be in larger cities or suburbs just outside city limits.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Housing is a seller’s market because homebuyers vastly outnumber properties for sale, and Realtor.com analysts investigated under what circumstances prospective buyers should be prepared to offer the most money over the asking price, how much, and where they may be able to offer a little under asking and still acquire the property.

Major bidding wars are concentrated in suburban centers, as city dwellers seek more space and less cost than they would pay in larger, more expensive urban enclaves.

Prices and demand for homes in the suburbs continue to appreciate, while areas where homes sold below asking price tended to be larger cities or suburbs just outside city limits, where prices were already very high and demand has been lower.

Analysts have also noticed a disconnect between what sellers should ask for and what buyers are willing to part with. Homes across the country have historically sold for about 3% to 4% under the asking price, so this trend could indicate a market becoming slightly more buyer-friendly.

Realtor.com listed North Miami Beach as the top place where homes are selling the most below the asking price because of the sheer number of condos available following a development boom, declining numbers of international homebuyers, and buyers valuing space over all other considerations. 

Source: Realtor.com (07/19/21) Cox, Elena

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Legal Dangers If Buyers Make Offers ‘More Appealing’

Part 1 of a 3-part series: Buyer’s offers. In today’s competitive market, buyers scramble to make their offer the most appealing one in the seller’s pile. But sometimes they may agree to concessions that do them more harm than good.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Part 1 of a 3-part series: Buyer’s offers. The series focuses on potential pitfalls in relation to buyers’ attempts to make their offers “more appealing” in today’s hot market.

Many buyers are tempted to – and often do – remove or change certain aspects of their offer to make it more appealing, in hopes the seller will accept their offer. However, it’s important to understand that these buyers’ changes may not always be the best idea and could actually lead to potential problems.

Challenge 1: Inspections

Here’s the first example of a trouble spot that’s generating calls to Florida Realtors® Legal Hotline. For the purposes of this series of articles, we’ll consider the language from the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar “AS-IS” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase (“FR/Bar Contract”).

In the FR/Bar Contract, the Inspection Period grants buyers the ability to terminate in their sole discretion within the Inspection Period. In today’s competitive market, many buyers are either reducing the amount of time for the Inspection Period or waiving it completely, i.e. putting zero days for the time for inspection.

If the buyers offer a shorter time-period than the default 15-days in the contract, they’re limiting their ability to terminate for any reason and retain their deposit.

Buyers should make sure they can complete any inspections they want done and provide notice of cancellation within their limited inspection period. This can be difficult. If an issue comes up after the Inspection Period ends – one not covered by another section of the contract – the buyers have lost their right to terminate under this clause. The buyers could be in default should they choose to cancel after the Inspection Period and, more importantly, face losing their deposit.

As such, buyers should understand the nuances and risks to reducing their time for inspection. Similarly, buyers who waive their Inspection Period entirely also risk being in breach of contract and losing their deposit should an issue arise regarding the property that results in the buyers backing away.

While it’s legally acceptable to do either of the above, the practical side of things makes it more complicated. It may be a situation of “Even if you can, should you?” when it comes to buyers putting their offers together with shorter or non-existent inspection periods.

If agents have buyers who want to reduce or entirely eliminate their inspection period, they should caution them about the possibility of losing their deposit, or worse, facing a potential lawsuit if they default on the sales contract.

Next month – Challenge 2: Appraisals

Laura Gomes is a Florida Realtors attorney

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Dear Joey: I Filed a Timely Complaint. Why Hasn’t It Been Heard?

An associate filed an ethics complaint and feels certain she did so within 180 days. However, over a year has passed since filing, and the hearing is just now coming up. Something must be wrong – right?

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dear Joey: How can a timely complaint that was filed over a year ago be heard now?

I know there are timeframes regarding filing in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration manual, but it seems ridiculous that the case is just being heard over a year later.

Dear Frustrated Party: I understand your questions and frustrations. However, it’s important to note that there are guidelines and timeframes as to when a complaint may be filed – but not necessarily when it needs to be heard.

According to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, Part 4, Section 20, on initiating an Ethics Hearing:

“Any person, whether a member or not, having reason to believe that a member is guilty of any conduct subject to disciplinary action, may file a complaint in writing in their own name with the Professional Standards Administrator, dated and signed by complainant, stating the facts on which it is based (Form #E-1, Complaint, Part Six), provided that the complaint is filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction or event, whichever is later.”

The key here is 180 days. And, more importantly whether the complaint was filed within 180 days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, or within 180 days after the conclusion of the transaction, whichever is later.

Associations must review cases within 45 days of receipt to determine if the complaint warrants a hearing. If so, the association’s Professional Standards Administrator must inform the Professional Standards chair the complaint has been forwarded to hearing and the chair shall select a hearing date no later than five days after the decision has been for hearing.

However, if there are unforeseen circumstances as you describe, that may result in delay. In light of the pandemic, associations were unable to hold customary in-person hearings, and many had to learn a new approach on the fly – this is how virtual hearings were born. It took time to regroup, and everyone was jumping countless hurdles to keep associations operational, resulting in delays on the professional standards front. 

I gather this is the case with your local association. While it does not seem fair, the association has no other recourse but to move forward despite the delay. There is no “dismiss” because the case is past its sell-by date. This only happens in rare circumstances.   

As hard as it may be to keep a clear head when involved in long and stressful situations like ethics hearings, try to stay calm, take a deep breath and put things in perspective. There are time limitations for filing complaints, but just like the courts, the timing for hearing a case depends on many factors. Like anything else in the ever-changing real estate industry, hearings can be delayed due to unforeseen issues and shifting responsibilities of all involved.

Joey Sale is the Director of Local Association Services for Florida Realtors

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Property Managers: Do’s and Don’ts as Eviction Ban Ends

The ban’s end allows tenants to once again be evicted. However, rules must be followed to legally complete the task. For example, a property manager must have written permission from the landlord to do so.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The end of the eviction ban authorized by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) is a step back to “normal” as the pandemic draws to a slow close.

This article serves as a reminder to Realtors who perform property management services for landlords concerning what they can and cannot do.

The Florida Supreme Court has authorized property managers responsible for the day-to-day management (i.e. renting units, maintenance, and collection and rents) of residential property to take certain actions but only if the following applies:

  • Property managers must have written authorization from a landlord to evict, incidental to the management of the real property.
  • Property managers are able to handle evictions but only if:
  • Eviction is for nonpayment of rent and
  • Eviction is uncontested

(The Florida Bar re: Advisory Opinion Nonlawyer Preparation of Landlord Uncontested Evictions, 605 So. 2d 868 (Fla. 1992), clarified, 627 So. 2d 485 (Fla. 1993).

If the above facts fit, property managers are authorized to:

  • Prepare eviction forms approved by the Florida Supreme Court (the Florida Bar re: Approval of Forms Pursuant to 10.1.1(b) of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar).
  • Complete and serve a 3-day notice.
  • Complete and file a complaint for eviction.
  • Sign the eviction pleadings on behalf of a landlord.
  • Complete and file a motion for default, and obtain a final judgment and writ of possession on behalf of a landlord.

Important to note: Property managers may not do any of the above if the tenant/defendant contests the eviction. If the tenant/defendant chooses to contest the eviction, the landlord must step in to handle it on their own or obtain legal counsel.

A property manager’s authorization to proceed on behalf of a landlord ceases if a hearing is required, including an initial hearing on a motion to determine the amount of rent to be deposited into the registry of the court.

Reminder: There are 67 counties in Florida that may differ in how evictions will proceed.

Additional limitations on property managers include:

  • A property manager cannot file for removal of the tenant if the lease has terminated, the tenant has not vacated, as this action isn’t based upon a failure to pay rent.  
  • If a tenant has breached the lease (other than for nonpayment of rent), a property manager cannot take action in court on behalf of a landlord.

If a property manager knows a tenant is going to contest an eviction for any reason, it’s recommended that either a landlord or that landlord’s attorney file the complaint with the court.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Multiple Offers – from Multiple Perspectives

Perspective matters. How does the collection of laws and rules related to multiple offers look to a buyer’s representative? How does that collection look to a seller’s representative?

ORLANDO, Fla. – As we continue to navigate an aggressive seller’s market, frustrations are on the rise. We continue to hear all sorts of stories on the Florida Realtors Legal Hotline about angry buyers, picky sellers, and members struggling to navigate this market.

We previously looked at several rules in play in a multiple offer situation: “How Should I Field Multiple Offers?”. That article was written from the perspective of a listing Realtor, but since this market has grown more intense since then, it’s worth revisiting from both perspectives.

To recap, here are the rules we touched on, from a listing perspective:

  • Honesty. Real estate licensees must always be honest and can generally be held liable at multiple levels if they are deceptive (criminal or civil court, FREC, or local board).
  • Confidentiality. There is typically some level of confidentiality owed to a seller, although the scope of confidentiality will depend on the nature of the listing broker’s relationship to the seller and specific conversations they have.
  • Withdrawal deadline. This is more of a legal issue for the buyer and seller, but they should be aware that the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar contracts provide an option for offers to expire and be withdrawn if not signed and returned by a deadline.
  • Standard of Practice 1-7. NAR’s Code of Ethics requires a listing broker to write back if the buyer’s agent asks them to verify that an offer was presented (or that they had written instruction to not present an offer).
  • Courtesy. While not required, courtesy and professionalism are at the heart of many of these conversations. So many complaints and legal disputes could have been resolved or headed off with a little common courtesy.

What can we add to this if we look at it from the perspective of someone representing a buyer?

Statute of Frauds

It doesn’t matter how promising negotiations seem or how close parties get to a fully executed contract. Until they cross the finish line, a buyer doesn’t have an enforceable agreement. This centuries-old rule only applies to certain types of contracts, including contracts for the sale and purchase of real property. It requires both a written document and signature before enforceable contract rights are created.

That means even if a buyer and seller verbally agree to every single term of a contract, beyond any reasonable doubt, the buyer doesn’t yet have an agreement.

Looking at this rule from the perspective of a buyer’s representative, it would be extremely helpful to avoid phrases like “we have a deal,” or “seller accepted our offer” until you have a fully executed contract in hand. It’s also helpful to encourage guarded optimism, even if negotiations seem to be going well.

Multiple methods to field multiple offers

The law allows sellers to use a wide variety of tactics when it comes to fielding multiple offers. A mantra we often repeat on the Legal Hotline is that a seller is welcome to accept, reject, counter, or ignore any offer(s) that come their way. Within that framework, you need to be prepared for anything. Remember, the seller ultimately controls the decision about how to handle multiple offers.

You could encounter any of the following, and possibly even a few more:

  • The seller requests the highest and best offers from all buyers by a deadline.
  • The seller deals with just one buyer.
  • The seller engages multiple (but not all) buyers to see if they are willing to improve their offers.
  • The seller holds an auction.
  • The seller decides to wait a while before making a decision.


One aspect of confidentiality is that you may not know the precise scope sellers have with their listing broker. If they are a single agent, you may not know much at all about what the seller thinks of your buyer’s offer. If they are a transaction broker, they could still be limited by anything the seller has requested they keep confidential. Therefore, don’t count on getting a detailed description of what happened after you submit an offer.

On the other hand, the terms of a buyer’s offer are generally not considered confidential. A seller could possibly use terms of your buyer’s offer as bargaining tools with other buyers. If you encounter a buyer who doesn’t like this, they can always speak with an attorney about obtaining a confidentiality agreement. While these agreements aren’t as common in residential transactions as they are in commercial, they are a tool buyers could employ if they feel strongly enough about it.

Article 16

The National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) Code of Ethics includes an article that provides Realtors shall not engage in any practice inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other Realtors have with clients. If you drill down, the more specific Standard of Practice 16-13 provides that, “All dealings concerning property exclusively listed … shall be carried on with the client’s representative or broker … except with the consent of the client’s representative or broker or except where such dealings are initiated by the client.”

Therefore, while it may be tempting to call the seller just to see if your buyer’s offer was presented, it would likely be a violation of the Code of Ethics.

Remember, you can send a written request to the listing Realtor to have them confirm whether they submitted the offer or had written instructions to withhold it (Standard of Practice 1-7 above). You will likely just receive a short message along the lines of “yes, I submitted the offer,” but it does force them to go on record with a response.

Presentation of offers

There is a rule in NAR’s Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy that enables cooperating brokers to be present when the buyer’s offer is presented. However, it’s worth noting that the seller can override this request by informing the listing broker (in writing) that they don’t want the cooperating broker present. One fine-tuned difference between this rule and Standard of Practice 1-7 is that, in this case, the cooperating broker is entitled to see a copy of a seller’s written denial of the request.

If you look closely at Standard of Practice 1-7, the buyer’s broker is not entitled to anything from the seller. A brief written response from the listing broker confirming they submitted the offer (or had written instructions from seller to not present it) is enough.

Joel Maxson is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


NAR: June’s Pending Home Sales Fall 1.9%

The number of homes that went under contract “has seesawed since Jan.,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, but higher home prices have taken a toll. In areas where housing is more affordable, local pending sales rose because buyer demand remains strong.

WASHINGTON – Pending home sales declined marginally in June after recording a notable gain in May, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says. It was even across the country, however, notably in the four broad regions tracked in NAR’s report. It was split both year-over-year and month-over-month. Only one region – the Northeast – recorded year-to-year gains in June.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings – fell 1.9% to 112.8 in June. Year-over-year, signings also slipped 1.9%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

“Pending sales have seesawed since January, indicating a turning point for the market,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Buyers are still interested and want to own a home, but record-high home prices are causing some to retreat.”

Yun says the “moderate slowdown” is largely caused by the “huge spike in home prices.” The Midwest region “offers the most affordable costs for a home and hence that region has seen better sales activity compared to other areas in recent months.”

June pending home sales regional breakdown: The Northeast PHSI increased 0.5% to 98.5, an 8.7% year-to-year rise. In the Midwest, the index grew 0.6% to 108.3 last month, down 2.4% from June 2020.

Pending home sales in the South fell 3.0% to an index of 132.4 in June, down 4.7% from June 2020. The index in the West decreased 3.8% to 98.1, down 2.6% from a year prior.

Yun forecasts that mortgage rates will start to inch up toward the end of the year. “This rise will soften demand and cool price appreciation.”

Yun also notes the gains made by home sellers over the past year.

“In just the last year, increasing home prices have translated into a substantial wealth gain of $45,000 for a typical homeowner,” he says. “These gains are expected to moderate to around $10,000 to $20,000 over the next year.”

According to Yun, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is likely to increase to 3.3% by the end of the year, and will average 3.6% in 2022. With the slight uptick in mortgage rates, he expects existing-home sales to marginally decline to 5.99 million (6 million in 2021).

With demand easing and housing starts improving to 1.65 million (1.565 in 2021), Yun says existing-home sales prices are expected to increase at a slower pace of 4.4% in 2022 (14.1% in 2021) to a median of $353,500.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Fed Maintains Interest Rates, Downplays Rising Pandemic Risk

WASHINGTON (AP) – The spread of the COVID-19 delta variant is raising infections, leading some companies and governments to require vaccinations and raising concerns about the U.S. economic recovery.

But on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell injected a note of reassurance, suggesting that the delta variant poses little threat to the economy, at least so far.

“What we’ve seen is, with successive waves of COVID over the past year and some months now,” Powell said at a news conference, “there has tended to be less in the way of economic implications from each wave. We will see whether that is the case with the delta variety, but it’s certainly not an unreasonable expectation.”

Powell spoke after the Fed ended its latest policy meeting in which it signaled, for the first time since the pandemic began to ease, that the economy is moving closer to the “substantial further progress” it wants to see before reducing the $120 billion in bonds it is buying each month. Those purchases are intended to lower rates on longer-term consumer and business loans to spur more borrowing and spending.

A reduction in the bond buying, which likely won’t start until the end of this year or early next year, would represent the start of a gradual pullback in the Fed’s support for the economy. Only when the bond purchases are completed is the Fed expected to begin considering raising its benchmark interest rate from zero, where it’s been since the pandemic erupted in March last year.

At his news conference, Powell acknowledged that the quickening spread of the highly contagious delta variant was threatening some areas of the nation where vaccinations are low, and he noted that “some forecasts are for them to rise quite significantly.” And he said that as the virus spreads, some consumers might pull back from the spending that has propelled the rapid rebound from the pandemic recession.

“Dining out, traveling, some schools might not reopen,” he said. “We may see economic effects from some of that or it might weigh on the return to the labor market. We don’t have a strong sense of how that will work out, so we’ll be monitoring it carefully.”

But Powell noted that last summer’s wave of infections had inflicted less damage to the economy that many analysts had forecast.

“We’ve kind of learned to live with it. A lot of industries have kind of improvised their way around it,” Powell added. “It seems like we’ve learned to handle this.”

The statement the Fed issued after its latest policy meeting said that ongoing vaccinations were helping to support the economy. But it dropped a sentence it had included after its previous meeting that said those vaccinations have reduced the spread of COVID-19.

The Fed’s latest policy statement comes as the economy is sustaining a strong recovery from the pandemic recession, with solid hiring and spending. That improvement, and a pickup in inflation, are key reasons why Powell and other Fed policymakers are believed to be moving closer toward pulling back their economic support. Consumer prices jumped 5.4% in June from a year ago, the biggest increase in 13 years. And a separate inflation gauge the Fed prefers has risen 3.9% in the past year.

Last month’s inflation surge marked a fourth straight month of unexpectedly large price increases, heightening fears that higher costs will erode the value of recent pay raises and undermine the economic recovery.

But Powell underscored his belief that recent inflation readings reflect price spikes in a narrow range of categories – such as used cars, airline tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals – that have been distorted by temporary supply shortages resulting from the economy’s swift reopening.

The Fed’s most important inflation measure, Powell stressed, is what it calls “inflation expectations” – what businesses and consumers expect prices to do in the coming months and years. Expectations are important because they can be self-fulfilling: If companies expect their costs to rise, say, 3%, they are likely to raise their own prices by the same amount.

So far, current price increases haven’t raised inflation expectations much, Powell said. “All the evidence is that it’s not happening.”

While Powell fielded many questions about inflation, he also said that hiring needed to progress further before the Fed would be ready to dial down its support for the economy.

“Chairman Powell did a very good job of refocusing the discussion on the idea that the Fed is not looking to materially alter its policy until we get at least close to full employment,” said Russell Price, chief economist at Ameriprise Financial. “So that what he’s telling people there is that, that’s still their primary focus.”

Economic concerns moving forward

Among Fed watchers and investors, there is some concern that the central bank will end up responding too late and too aggressively to high inflation by quickly jacking up interest rates and potentially causing another recession. Earlier this month, Republicans in Congress peppered Powell with questions about inflation.

But at his news conference, Powell said that if “we were to see inflation moving up to levels persistently that were above significantly, materially above our goal … we would use our tools to guide inflation back down” to the Fed’s target average inflation of 2% annually.

After a period of broad agreement during the pandemic crisis, the Fed’s policymakers appear divided over how soon to begin tapering its bond purchases. Several regional Fed bank presidents support tapering soon, including James Bullard of the St. Louis Fed, Patrick Harker of the Philadelphia Fed and Robert Kaplan of the Dallas Fed.

But Powell has said that the central bank wants to see “substantial further progress” toward its goals of maximum employment and price stability before it would consider reducing the bond purchases. To make up for years of inflation remaining below 2%, the Fed wants inflation to moderately exceed its 2% average inflation target and to show signs of remaining above that level for an unspecified time.

Powell has said the Fed will communicate its intention to taper “well in advance” of doing so. Many economists think that signal will occur in late August or September.

At their two-day meeting that ended Wednesday, Fed officials also discussed the mechanics of paring its bond purchases, including how fast the purchases would be wound down.

The Fed is buying $80 billion of Treasurys and $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month in an effort to force down loan rates. Some on the Fed’s policymaking committee favor tapering the mortgage bond purchases soon, because home prices are soaring and ultra-low loan rates might be overheating demand for homes.

But Powell said he didn’t agree, suggesting that both Treasury and mortgage bond purchases tend to have similar effects on mortgage rates and other borrowing costs.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.


Pandemic Boat Buys Boost Demand for Homes with Docks

Boating’s appeal skyrocketed during pandemic-era social distancing, and the water-lovers who pushed boat sales 12% higher now need a place to park it.

NEW YORK – Houses with private boat docks, bulkheads, sea walls and lifts are in high demand. Americans bought a record-number of boats during the pandemic in an effort to social distance and stay healthy in the great outdoors – and those purchases created more homebuyers with “a place to park my boat” on their list of preferences.

According to the Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association, boat sales reached a 13-year high in 2020, up 12% from the year before, with more than 310,000 power boats sold in the United States last year.

The sales uptick is also due, in part, to people working remotely at what was their weekend house before the pandemic lockdowns. If they made that move permanent, some may also be justifying a boat’s cost if the home left behind was more expensive.

However, some waterfront communities have restrictions that cap new construction, allowing homeowners only to restore or replace existing docks. As a result, there’s a lack of dock inventory in some areas of the U.S., including in the Florida Keys and in Maine.

In the Keys, any house design takes a back seat to its water location and boat setup, according to Brett Newman of the Newman Team, Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate in Islamorada. With some buyers, “you don’t even go into the homes, you just go to the back and check out the dock,” he says.

Source: Wall Street Journal (07/21/21) Wilson, Claire

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Mortgage Rates Move a Little Bit Higher This Week

While average mortgage rates have generally declined over the past few weeks, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose from last week’s 2.78% to 2.80%.

MCLEAN, Va. – Average mortgage rates rose a little bit this week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The most popular 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.80%.

“As the economy works to get back to its pre-pandemic self, and the fight against COVID-19 variants unfolds, owners and buyers continue to benefit from some of the lowest mortgage rates of all-time,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Largely due to the current environment, the 30-year fixed-rate remains below 3% for the fifth consecutive week, while the 15-year fixed-rate hits another record low.”

Average mortgage rates for the week of July 29, 2021

  • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.80% with an average 0.7 point, up from last week’s 2.78%. A year ago, it averaged 2.99%.
  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.10% with an average 0.7 point, down from last week’s 2.12%. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.51%.
  • The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.45% with an average 0.3 point, down from last week’s 2.49%. A year ago, it averaged 2.94%.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Pool Homes Commanding Higher Prices Across U.S.

While pools are unique in many U.S. areas, they’re more common in Fla. In some South Fla. metros, 3 out of 4 homes offer a swimming pool in the backyard.

NEW YORK – During the pandemic, it became even cooler to have a swimming pool, and they’ve been in demand since the COVID-19 outbreak.

But for real estate, pools haven’t always been a slam-dunk moneymaker. Real estate pros express mixed opinions on the value they add to a home, especially given their high price tag. Porch.com, a home improvement resource, analyzed how a swimming pool can impact the price of a home in the 500 largest cities across the U.S.

Overall, homes with pools tend to be more expensive than those without. A home with a swimming pool was worth, on average, 47% more than a home that didn’t have one, according to the study. However, a home with a pool also tends to be a bit more upscale than one without one anyway.

In some cities, the premium is much higher. New York, for example, boasts the highest pool premium in the country. If you want a home with a pool in the Big Apple, the average cost is six times the price of an average home.

Florida is a bit unique. Thanks to year-round warm weather and its retirement appeal, a relatively high percentage of homes come with a pool. As a result, a home seller’s advantage can vary widely.

Of the top 10 cities with pools based on the percentage of homes, eight out of 10 are in Florida, with Boca Raton, Miami and Fort Lauderdale topping the list:

  1. Boca Raton: 74% of homes have a pool
  2. Miami: 70%
  3. Fort Lauderdale: 69%
  4. Hollywood: 67%
  5. Pompano Beach: 67%
  6. Sunrise: 66%
  7. Irvine, Calif.: 65%
  8. Davie: 63%
  9. Mission Viejo, Calif.: 62%
  10. Clearwater: 62%

Meanwhile, some U.S. cities have few pools, including Anchorage, Alaska (2%); Lincoln, Neb. (2%); Pueblo, Colo. (2%); and Lancaster, Calif. (2%).

Highest and lowest “pool premiums”

The following U.S. cities have the highest “pool premium” – the average price of a home with a pool compared as a percentage to the average home price in the city:

  1. New York (548% pool premium)
  2. Youngstown, Ohio (458%)
  3. Columbus, Ga. (446%)
  4. Birmingham, Ala. (437%)
  5. Jackson, Miss. (413%)
  6. San Angelo, Texas (358%)
  7. Atlanta (328%)
  8. Dayton, Ohio (327%)
  9. Los Angeles (305%)
  10. Monroe, La. (302%)

On the other hand, these cities have the lowest “pool premium”:

  1. Sunnyvale, Calif. (–54%)
  2. Eau Claire, Wis. (–51%)
  3. Santa Clara, Calif. (–36%)
  4. Bellingham, Wash. (–36%)
  5. Ontario, Calif. (–32%)
  6. Westminster, Calif. (–29.%)
  7. Huntington Beach, Calif. (–25%)
  8. Garden Grove, Calif. (–23%)
  9. Santa Ana, Calif. (–22%)
  10. Eugene, Ore. (–17%)

Source: “Most and Least Expensive Cities to Buy a Home With a Pool,” Porch.com (May 24, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


SBA Simplifies Paycheck Protection (PPP) Loan Forgiveness

Small businesses that borrowed $150K or less can soon apply for loan forgiveness directly through the Small Business Administration rather than their lender.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a streamlined application portal for borrowers who took out a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan under $150,000 through participating lenders. Rather than go through that lender, SBA says they can now apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA starting on Aug. 4, 2021.

“With the new simplified application portal, thousands of Southeastern businesses, and even sole proprietorships that borrowed PPP funds, will have these funds forgiven,” says Janita R. Stewart, acting regional administrator for the SBA’s Southeastern Region.

Stewart says most entrepreneurs waiting for forgiveness have loans under $150,000, and “It was time we made the process more efficient so businesses can get back to sustaining our communities.”

The change will help speed relief to the smallest of small businesses, which SBA says has been its priority since day one.

To qualify for direct forgiveness from the SBA, the lender who originated the PPP loan must opt-in to the program, which SBA says they can do at directforgiveness.sba.gov.

In addition to the technology platform, SBA says a PPP customer service team will answer questions and directly assist borrowers with their forgiveness applications. Those who need assistance or have questions can call (877) 552-2692, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. EDT.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Danger Lurking in Biden Plan to Eliminate or Cap 1031s

A common misconception: 1031 exchanges are a tax loophole. A study on 1.6 million properties concluded that 80% of 1031s were ultimately sold via a taxable sale rather than a subsequent exchange. And a 1031 repeal would shrink U.S. GDP by $9.3B.

SARASOTA, Fla. – The strength and resilience of the commercial real estate market has been tested many times over the past 100 years – never more so than during the pandemic, which shuttered hundreds of shopping malls, retail centers and restaurants. The fallout continues with hotels and office buildings; virtual meetings are replacing business travel, and many people continue to work from home exclusively.

As every state in the nation, Florida especially, begins to creep toward an economic rebound, commercial real estate must again play an essential role in the recovery.

The Biden administration plan to eliminate the deferral of taxes on property gains of more than $500,000 from like-kind exchanges, granted under Internal Revenue Code Section 1031, will cripple commercial redevelopment at a time when our communities need that investment more than ever.

Section 1031 provides important capital to revitalize communities throughout the state – from the Gulf Coast through Orlando to the eastern shores – and grow our economy. It has been used to provide affordable multifamily housing in working class communities, revitalize commercial shopping centers and allow growing businesses to expand their space.

The Federation of Accommodators, the national organization of 1031 Exchange companies, analyzed and aggregated the data for Florida from eight companies from 2015 to 2019 and found:

  • At least 20,206 properties were involved in 1031 exchanges.
  • The total value of those properties was $40 billion.
  • Deals through 1031 rules generated $395 million in state and county transfer taxes and recording fees.

Actual 1031 activity in Florida is far greater as many companies facilitate exchanges; it is estimated that 15%-20% of commercial transactions involve a 1031. It is clear Section 1031 is important to our region’s economy and generates significant tax revenue.

A common misconception fueling attempts to remove 1031 exchanges is they are a loophole to avoid paying taxes. That is not the case.

A microeconomic study on 1.6 million properties concluded that 80% of replacement properties acquired in a 1031 exchange were ultimately disposed of through a taxable sale, rather than a subsequent exchange, with all the deferred taxes paid within roughly a 15-year window.

Additionally, a 2017 macroeconomic study by Ernst & Young, recently updated, concluded that if section 1031 were limited or repealed, it would shrink GDP by a whopping $9.3 billion per year. The study further projected benefits from 1031 exchanges for 2021 and concluded that, on a national basis, these transactions will:

  • Support 568,000 jobs, representing $27.5 billion in labor income and generating $5 billion in federal income taxes.
  • Generate $6 billion annually in federal taxes from foregone depreciation on replacement properties.
  • Generate $2.8 billion in state and local taxes.
  • Add $55 billion to the GDP.
  • Just the $5 billion in federal taxes from jobs in one year far exceeds the 2021 Biden administration budget estimate of $1.95 billion per year over 10 years coming from a $500,000 cap on 1031 exchanges.

So why change Section 1031? It doesn’t raise any money.

Capping 1031 exchanges – which serve as an essential generator of economic redevelopment, support jobs and produce tax revenue for local governments here in the Gulf Coast and nationwide – would fall far short as an expected source to pay for the American Families Plan and ultimately have the unintended consequence of harming, not helping, our towns, cities and American families who have struggled mightily from the ravages of the pandemic.

© Copyright 2021, Business Observer (Sarasota, FL). All rights reserved.


Large Single-Family Investors Ramping Up Inventory

Single-family investing is a profitable niche. Big companies continue to expand their inventory, but it’s unclear how much they can grow before there’s a public backlash.

NEW YORK – Wall Street firms are more eager than ever to buy family homes, evidenced by Blackstone’s real-estate investment trust (REIT) recent purchase of a portfolio of apartments for $5.1 billion from insurer American International Group. In June, the investment firm also spent $6 billion on Home Partners of America, a company that owns more than 17,000 houses across the United States and offers renters an option to buy.

In addition, private-equity giant KKR launched a new division that will buy homes to rent them out.

Large investors’ single-family home activity is expected increase now that the COVID-19 pandemic has made owning family homes more attractive. While the rents collected from commercial real-estate assets such as malls and offices took a hit during the COVID-19 crisis, most private residential tenants continued to pay up.

Family homes could be an even better long-term bet than owning e-commerce warehouses. Real-estate research firm Green Street estimates that renting out U.S. single-family homes will deliver annual returns of 6.6%, compared with a forecast of 6.3% for industrial property.

However, the industry generally expects a public backlash at some point, though it’s uncertain how many family homes the financial giants can snap up before that happens.

Institutional investors already own 55% of the U.S. supply of multifamily homes, typically condos. However, they’re minnows in the most appealing part of the housing market. Currently, just 2% of all single-family properties available for rent in the United States are in the hands of institutional investors, according to Amherst.

Source: Wall Street Journal (07/23/21) Ryan, Carol

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Defend Your Commission: Reasons Why You’re Worth It

It isn’t hard to find buyers right now, but sellers need you to fill out contracts, negotiate multiple-bid offers and screen buyers to verify that they’re qualified.

SAN FRANCISCO – Many consumers wonder if an agent is really necessary when it comes to selling their home, says Darryl Davis, CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars.

But, he says, agents must know their own value. To do that, agents should have the utmost confidence that a seller is better off hiring them than acting as a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO).

The most recent National Association of Realtors®’ Profile of Home Buyer and Sellers states, “The typical FSBO home sold for $217,900 compared to $295,000 for agent-assisted home sales.” Based on those numbers, homeowners stand to gain more money even after paying the commission.

Agents can also emphasize that they provide a high quality, trustworthy experience, along with a guarantee that the purchase will be safeguarded. Licensed and trained agents can protect homeowners from miscalculating the price and misrepresenting themselves, notably in multiple-offer situations.

Furthermore, FSBOs allow unvetted individuals into sellers’ homes, whereas licensed agents ensure that to get to a listing, buyers are screened, prequalified and recorded.

Agents can also better protect sellers from legal hassles. FSBOs typically download online contracts without fully understanding if they’re even valid. There are numerous cases of sellers who appear to sell their home to more than one buyer, and must then try to extract themselves from one or more contract, as well as become legally responsible for more than one commission. 

Source: Inman (07/22/21) Davis, Darryl

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


NAR: 2 of 5 ‘Volunteering Works’ Winners Are from Fla.

NAR and the Good Neighbor Society named the five volunteers who will receive seed money and mentoring – a list that includes Realtors from Seminole and Jacksonville.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and the Good Neighbor Society announced the recipients of the 13th annual Volunteering Works grants and mentoring program, and two of the five winners call Florida home.

The program awards funding to Realtors® who work on small-scale charitable efforts while matching them with mentors in their field. Each winner receives a $1,000 seed grant and one year of one-on-one mentoring from a member of the Good Neighbor Society. The mentors are past recipients of NAR’s annual Good Neighbor Awards, the highest honor the association awards to Realtors involved in community service.

“Amid the changes and challenges that have been introduced into all our lives over the past year, these amazing recipients have continued to step forward in ways that leave a lasting, positive mark on our world,” says NAR President Charlie Oppler. “I am so proud to support these volunteers and their important work, which illustrates the commitment Realtors make to their neighbors and neighborhoods.”

NAR selected the Volunteering Works recipients based on their  community devotion via volunteer endeavors and the potential for their good works to be expanded or improved with the help of an expert mentor.

2021 Volunteering Works grant and mentoring recipients

  • Kathleen (Kadi) Tubbs, Randall J. Hendricks, Seminole, Florida
    What started as her daughter’s school project in 2015 – sending care packages to men and women stationed overseas – grew into the nonprofit organization Operation: Military Matters. The group has sent over 1,200 care packages to American troops across the globe. Tubbs will receive guidance from 2010 Good Neighbor Wendy Rocca of Keller Williams Realty Boston in Lexington, Massachusetts, who will help Tubbs reduce shipping costs and increase the number of care packages she can distribute each year.
  • Gloria Vinson, Landco Properties, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida
    In 2017, Gloria Vinson founded The Vinson Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that supports families who lost a loved one to suicide, and helps fund professional counseling and funeral services. She will receive guidance from 2020 Good Neighbor Gail Doxie of RE/MAX Realty in Ft. Myers, Florida, who will help Vinson find methods to build support and raise money for mental health treatment in her community.
  • Eduardo Aguire, Corcoran Global Living, San Francisco, California
    Seven years ago, Eduardo Aguire co-founded Designing a Difference (DaD), a nonprofit organization that provides job opportunities to people who struggle in traditional employment and professional settings. Aguire will receive guidance from 2020 Good Neighbor Linda Brown of Amax Real Estate in Springfield, Missouri, who will bring new ideas for growth and help implement a strategic plan for DaD.
  • Ryan Gable, StartingPoint Realty, Schaumburg, Illinois
    Ryan Gable founded Bikes & Music Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides bicycles and musical instruments to local children in need. Gable will receive guidance from 2020 Good Neighbor Eric Baucom of Coastlands Real Estate Group in Ventura, California, who will develop a strategic plan for the nonprofit and help conceptualize and execute various fundraisers for Gable’s group to host.
  • Jane Page Thompson, Carolina Real Estate Company, Aiken, South Carolina
    In 2018, Jane Page Thompson co-founded Blessing Boxes of Aiken, a county-wide project that builds, stocks and supports food boxes where people donate items for local community members in need. She will receive guidance from 2017 Good Neighbor Debbie Berg of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Birmingham, Missouri, who will help increase awareness of the project and develop a mapping and volunteer database.

 To learn more about Volunteering Works or the Good Neighbor Awards, visit NAR’s website at www.nar.realtor/gna.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Consumer Confidence Relatively Unchanged in July

U.S. consumers remain optimistic: July’s confidence index is about the same as June’s, after gains in each of the prior 5 months – and the highest since Feb. 2020.

NEW YORK – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was relatively unchanged in July, following gains in each of the prior five months. The Index now stands at 129.1, up from 128.9 in June.

The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – rose from 159.6 to 160.3. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – was virtually unchanged at 108.4, compared to 108.5 last month.

“Consumer confidence was flat in July but remains at its highest level since February 2020,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting economic growth in Q3 is off to a strong start. Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook didn’t waver, and they continued to expect that business conditions, jobs and personal financial prospects will improve.”

Franco says short-term inflation expectations eased slightly but they’re still elevated. “Spending intentions picked up in July, with a larger percentage of consumers saying they planned to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances in the coming months.,” she added, and “consumer spending should continue to support robust economic growth in the second half of 2021.”

Present situation

Consumers’ appraisal of current business conditions improved slightly in July.

• 26.4% of consumers said business conditions are “good,” up from 25.2%.
• 19.3% of consumers said business conditions are “bad,” up from 19.1%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was relatively flat.

• 54.9% of consumers said jobs are “plentiful,” up from 54.7%.
• 10.5% of consumers said jobs are “hard to get,” unchanged from June.

Expectations six months from now

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term business conditions outlook eased slightly in July.

• 33.4% of consumers expect business conditions will improve, down from 33.7%.
• 10.5% expect business conditions to worsen, down from 10.8%.

Consumers were mixed about the short-term labor market outlook.

• 27.7% of consumers expect more jobs to be available in the months ahead, up from 26.6%.
• Conversely, 16.8% anticipate fewer jobs, up from 15.7%.

Consumers remained upbeat about their short-term financial prospects.

• 20.6% of consumers expect their incomes to increase, up from 20.0%.
• Only 8.6% expect their incomes will decrease, up from 8.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Toluna, a technology company that delivers real-time consumer insights and market

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


CFPB Tool Is One-Stop Shop for Rental Assistance Info

While OurFlorida.com is the state’s go-to website for past-due rental assistance, some local programs also offer help, and CFPB compiled that info on a single webpage.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released an online tool to help renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic easily find and apply for payment assistance for rent, utilities and other expenses.

In Florida, OurFlorida.com is the primary go-to website for aid, but CFPB’s Rental Assistance Finder, available at www.consumerfinance.gov/renthelp, connects renters and landlords with other state and local programs  distributing federal assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic. (Choose “Florida” from the website’s dropdown box.)

“Millions of people are behind on their rent and at risk of eviction as a result of the pandemic,” says CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “The Rental Assistance Finder will make it easier for renters and landlords to locate the financial assistance available in their area. People across the country are already receiving billions of dollars in assistance, and with this new tool we hope even more renters and landlords will take advantage of this emergency relief.”

According to a CFPB analysis of Census Household Pulse Survey data from June 23-July 5, 16% of adults living in rental households said they are currently behind on their payments. Of adults living in households behind on rent, 49% (approximately 3.6 million) say that eviction in the next two months is somewhat or very likely.

The federal government allocated more than $46 billion to help households unable to pay rent, utilities and other housing costs, and all 50 states – and hundreds of local, tribal and other programs – are distributing funds. CFPB says its Rental Assistance Finder tool will make it easier for renters and landlords to connect with assistance programs in their area.

Earlier, CFPB created a one-stop resource for up-to-date information on housing relief options, protections, and key deadlines at consumerfinance.gov/housing.

In addition to rental aid, CFPB says it’s taken other actions to support renters during the pandemic, including a joint statement with then-FTC Acting Chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter promising to monitor illegal eviction activity, an interim final rule detailing illegal debt collection practices in connection with evictions during the pandemic, and a bulletin explaining Fair Credit Reporting Act obligations related to the reporting of rental and eviction information.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Foreign Investment in U.S. Existing-Homes Falls 27% to $54.4B

NAR: It’s the lowest level in a decade. Foreign buyers purchased 107K properties, down 31% from the prior year, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a strong global economic slowdown. For the 13th straight year, Fla. remained the top destination for foreign buyers, with 21% of all international purchases.

WASHINGTON – Foreign buyers purchased $54.4 billion worth of U.S. existing homes from April 2020 through March 2021, a 27% decrease from the previous 12-month period and the fourth consecutive annual decline in foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®. Foreign buyers purchased 107,000 properties, down 31% from the prior year, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a strong global economic contraction and a decline in international tourist and business arrivals. The dollar and sales volumes are the lowest since 2011, when those figures were $66.4 billion and 210,800 properties, respectively.

NAR’s 2021 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate surveyed members about transactions with international clients who purchased and sold U.S. residential property from April 2020 through March 2021.

Foreign buyers who resided in the U.S. as recent immigrants or who were holding visas that allowed them to live in the U.S. purchased $32.4 billion worth of U.S. existing homes, a 21% decrease from the prior year and representing 60% of the dollar volume of purchases. Foreign buyers who lived abroad purchased $22 billion worth of existing homes, down 33% from the 12 months prior and accounting for 40% of the dollar volume. International buyers accounted for 2.8% of the $5.8 trillion in existing-home sales during that time period.

“The big decline in foreign purchases of homes in the U.S. in the past year is no surprise, given the pandemic-induced lockdowns and international travel restrictions,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Yet, even with the absence of foreign buyers, the U.S. housing market strengthened solidly.”

Total U.S. existing-home sales plunged to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.01 million in May 2020. Sales fully recovered by July, eventually reaching a peak of 6.73 million in October.

China and Canada remained first and second in U.S. residential sales dollar volume at $4.5 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, continuing a trend going back to 2013. India ($3.1 billion), Mexico ($2.9 billion), and the United Kingdom ($2.7 billion) rounded out the top five.

The United Kingdom was the only country among the top five to see an increase in dollar volume from the previous year ($1.4 billion to $2.7 billion) and it replaced Colombia as the fifth largest country of origin by dollar volume of foreign buyers. The annual dollar volume dropped by at least 50% for foreign buyers from China ($4.5 billion from $11.5 billion), Canada ($4.2 billion from $9.5 billion) and Mexico ($2.9 billion from $5.8 billion).

“As travel restrictions loosen and foreign students return to U.S. colleges in the upcoming year, there is likely to be some growth in foreign buying of U.S. real estate,” Yun added. “High home prices and the ongoing lack of inventory could, however, pose a challenge for buyers.”

The median existing-home sales price among international buyers was $351,800, 15% more than the $305,500 median price for all existing homes sold in the U.S. The price difference primarily reflects the locations and type of properties desired by foreign buyers. At $476,500, Chinese buyers had the highest median purchase price, and more than a third – 34% – purchased property in California.

For the 13th straight year, Florida remained the top destination for foreign buyers, accounting for 21% of all international purchases. California ranked second (16%), followed by Texas (9%) and Arizona (5%), with New Jersey and New York tied at 4%.

All-cash sales accounted for almost two out of five – 39% – international buyer transactions, with a higher percentage among non-resident compared to resident foreign buyers at 61% and 24%, respectively. More than four out of five buyers from the United Kingdom – 82% – made all-cash purchases, the highest share among foreign buyers. Asian Indian buyers were the least likely to pay all-cash at just 8%. Two-thirds of Canadian buyers (66%), two out of five of Chinese buyers (40%), and a third of Mexican buyers (33%) made an all-cash purchase.

Forty-three percent of foreign buyers purchased the property for primary residence use and 65% purchased detached single-family homes and townhouses. Nearly half of international buyers – 49% – purchased a home in the suburbs and 28% bought a home in an urban area, a figure that’s held steady over the last six years. Seven percent of foreign buyers bought property in a resort area, down from 17% in 2012.

“Driving economic development through our work to foster diverse and inclusive communities remains a top priority for NAR,” said Katie Johnson, NAR”s general counsel and chief member experience officer. “Our association collaborates with groups across the country to educate foreign buyers on the opportunities in U.S. real estate and to maximize the global business potential in our local markets. NAR and the Realtor® brand has grown to a network of more than 100 real estate associations across 85 countries, ensuring stable, accessible markets that allow our members to make direct connections with global real estate professionals and sources of foreign investment.”

Source: NAR

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Study: Homes Get Larger While Lots Shrink

Median home size is about 2,260 square feet, while the median lot size is 8,700 square feet, down 18% from 2010. Jacksonville is No. 2 for large yards in a big U.S. city.

WASHINGTON – Single-family homes with large backyards may be harder to find nowadays. The median home size is now about 2,260 square feet, up from 2,170 square feet in 2010.

Meanwhile, the median lot size on a new home has shrunk by nearly 18% from 10,500 square feet in 2010 to 8,700 square feet in 2020, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by StorageCafe.

The study reveals that homes constructed in the 1960s or 1970s were typically situated on larger plots of land. Many of those homes are now being replaced by larger single-family homes or, when zoning allows, multiple townhouses, according to the study.

During the pandemic, many homeowners focused on their outdoor spaces, leading to growing demand for large backyards.

StorageCafe analyzed lot sizes in the largest U.S. cities, finding that Jacksonville is the No. 2 city for a large yard. The median lot in Jacksonville is 9,104 square feet.

Isaac Hiatt of Yardi Matrix observes, “The demand for housing in many markets is so much higher than the current supply that developers of new residential properties have to make the most of available land. This has led to an increase in what many would call single-family condensed housing.”

Source: Realtor Magazine (07/20/21)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


RE Q&A: Can Delivery Driver Sue Me If He Fell Near My Door?

While it may be a random event, the owner owes a “duty of care” – he’s supposed to make sure there are no dangerous conditions that could injure someone on his property.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: A parcel delivery driver tripped on his way to leave a package by my front door. I saw it happen later, reviewing the video from my doorbell. It was a bad fall, and he slowly limped back to his truck and left. I hope he is OK, but I am worried if he can sue me. Can he? – Walter

Answer: As a property owner, you owed the driver a duty of care. This means you are responsible for making sure no dangerous conditions could injure someone on your property.

If the hazard was not in plain sight, like a loose step leading to your porch, or a rotted handrail, you need to warn people until you can fix the problem. If someone gets hurt because you did not live up to your duty of care, you could be sued for their injuries, suffering, and lost wages.

In your case, you did not mention if some issue with your property caused the driver to fall or if it was a freak accident.

Either way, your first step is to save the video of what happened. This could prove crucial to your defense later, especially if it were a random event or if the driver’s actions, maybe by playing with his phone rather than watch where he was walking, contributed to his fall.

You also need to call your homeowners insurance company and tell them what happened. If you live within a community association, report the accident to them too.

The driver is most likely covered by worker’s compensation insurance, covering his medical bills and most of his lost wages.

Unfortunately for you, his insurance company could look to you for reimbursement if you were at fault.

The driver could also sue you directly, although he would have to pay part of any recovery to worker’s comp to reimburse them for what they spent.

Your homeowners’ insurance company should help you with this issue, including your legal defense. This is why it is essential to report the issue to them immediately.

Copyright © 2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. All rights reserved.


Foreclosure Ban Nears End; White House Vows More Aid

The ban ends July 31, and over 1.5M homeowners remain delinquent on their mortgage. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers info about possible relief options.

WASHINGTON – The foreclosure moratorium on federally backed mortgages, which was initiated at the start of the pandemic, will expire on July 31. More than 1.5 million homeowners remain seriously delinquent on their mortgage, meaning they haven’t made a payment in at least 90 days, according to Black Knight data. That equates to about 2.9% of U.S. mortgage holders.

The White House recently announced additional actions to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure when they emerge from mortgage forbearance. Borrowers with federally backed loans – including FHA, FHFA, VA, and USDA loans – can extend the length of their mortgages and lock in lower interest rates. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will offer lenders the ability to provide all eligible borrowers with a 25% principal and interest reduction. The Biden administration said in a release that it believes the additional payment reduction will result in fewer foreclosures.

Pandemic-related forbearance moratoriums have allowed some homeowners to defer their mortgage payments for up to 18 months. The extra aid for homeowners coming out of forbearance is “an important additional step to give people the opportunity to stay in their homes after they had a hardship during the pandemic,” said Bob Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has restricted mortgage lenders from foreclosing on a property this year without contacting the homeowner first to determine if they qualify for a loan modification or a lower interest rate. The CFPB also maintains a page outlining relief options and deadlines. About 75% of home loans are backed by the federal government, according to the Urban Institute.

Source: “New Aid Coming for Mortgage Borrowers at Risk of Foreclosure,” The Wall Street Journal (July 23, 2021) [Log-in required.] and Whitehouse.gov

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Wildfires May Reheat Lumber Prices

Lumber prices had been cooling in recent weeks. However, lumber producers warn price hikes likely are on the horizon if the Western wildfires aren’t contained.

NEW YORK – Dozens of raging wildfires in the West are threatening to send lumber prices soaring again.

Lumber prices had been cooling in recent weeks, giving builders – and, ultimately, new-home buyers – hope for more affordability. Remodeling costs also were set to benefit. But the relief may be short-lived, as lumber producers are warning price hikes are on the horizon if the Western wildfires aren’t contained.

Canfor Corp., one of the largest lumber producers in North America, said this week that the company is scaling back output at its mills, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The wildfires burning in western Canada are significantly impacting the supply chain and our ability to transport product to market,” said Stephen Mackie, an executive vice president at Canfor. Other companies also are predicting a large-scale pullback in lumber production because of wildfires burning all along the West Coast.

Stock traders bid up lumber futures this week by the daily maximum amount exchange rules allow, the Journal reports.

Earlier this year, amid crushing buyer demand, lumber prices reached a record high in May. But since then, they’ve fallen nearly 70%. The median price of a new home in May was up 18% from a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data. At the time, high lumber costs were blamed for soaring new-construction costs.

Source: “Western Wildfires Lift Lumber Prices,” The Wall Street Journal (July 22, 2021) [Log-in required.]  

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


NAR Announces 2022 Leadership Academy Class

Two of the 20 Realtors chosen for the 10-month program that begins in Jan. 2022 are from Florida: Carlos Alleyne, Boca Raton, and Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Miami Shores.

CHICAGO – The National Association of Realtors® has announced its 2022 Leadership Academy class. Two members of the class are from Florida: Carlos Alleyne and Ines Hegedus-Garcia. A total of 20 Realtors® are participating in the 10-month program, which will prepare emerging state and local volunteers for future leadership positions at NAR.

“NAR’s Leadership Academy allows our volunteer leaders to develop the skills and gain the experiences they’ll need as they represent Realtors and work to secure a better future for American real estate,” said 2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith. “This Academy helps us solidify NAR’s successful and long-standing volunteer leadership structure, and it prepares our next generation of leaders to make positive, lasting changes to the industry we love.”

The twenty Realtors selected, who will join a nationwide community of leaders with influence throughout the industry, will participate in both virtual and in-person educational experiences as part of the Academy. Class participants will learn the inner workings of NAR and gain key insights that will prepare them to serve in prominent committee roles and leadership positions at every level of the association.

The program begins January 2022 and culminates at NAR’s 2022 Realtors Conference and Expo in Orlando, Fla., that November.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Ransomware Attack May Jeopardize Some Closings

Cloudstar, a cloud service used by many title companies, shut down after a ransomware attack last week. As a result, some brokers now can’t register transactions or closings. “We are still very much in the containment and remediation phase,” the company says.

NEW YORK – Cloudstar, one of the largest cloud services in title services, remains offline after a ransomware attack last week. Cloudstar is a cloud-based hosting service that provides support to more than 42,000 title and settlement professionals across the country. The attack and resulting outage could delay some real estate transactions.

Cloudstar’s main user base is in the real estate and title industry, and the ransomware attack has prevented some real estate brokers from registering transactions and property closings, according to media reports.

Last week, the company announced it had been hit by a “highly sophisticated ransomware attack” that forced it to halt most of its services, and many of those services are still offline. The company is maintaining a status page for the latest updates. The company’s July 20 update said it was working with third-party experts to investigate the scope of the attack and identify which of its systems were impacted by the malware.

“We are still very much in the containment and remediation phase,” the company notes. “As soon as we have a definitive timeline to share in terms of when we will be back up and running, we will do so.”

In the meantime, the American Land Title Association reports that several software vendors and title companies are stepping in to offer services to help keep real estate deals on track for closing.

Source: mycloudstar.com; “Ransomware Incident at Major Cloud Provider Disrupts Real Estate, Title Industry,” The Record (July 19, 2021); “Closings in Jeopardy as Cloud-Hosting Vendor Suffers Ransomware Attack,” American Land Title Association (July 18, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Study: Showings Plummet After First 5 Days on Market

ShowingTime: Those 5 days are “hyperactive with double-digit showings and offers submitted quickly”– 64 markets averaged double-digit showings per listing during June.

CHICAGO – The rush is on to see a house as soon as it’s listed. But after the first five days of listing a home, showings drop considerably, according to a new analysis of June home showing data from ShowingTime, a showing management and tech firm for residential real estate.

ShowingTime’s June analysis of more than 6 million properties nationwide revealed a significant slowdown in home showing traffic compared with more recent months. That may be due to more listings coming on to the market: New listings in June rose 5.5% year over year and are up 10.9% over the prior month, according to a new report from realtor.com®.

Still, the first five days of listings are “hyperactive with double-digit showings and offers submitted quickly,” according to ShowingTime.

The ShowingTime Showing Index reveals that 64 markets still averaged double-digit showings per listing during June. Seattle and Denver had the most. However, showings dropped by nearly half in June compared to May, when 113 markets averaged double-digit showings per listing.

“Buyer demand remains healthy,” says Michael Lane, ShowingTime’s president. “Showing traffic is still above last year’s levels – other than in the Northeast, where it is down 3% from last year – though we saw a quick month-to-month drop in the number of showings per listing in June, showing an uncharacteristically rapid slowdown in real estate demand coming into summer.”

Nevertheless, the first five days after a listing goes live are critical for buyers and will have the most activity, Lane says.

Riverside and Bakersfield, Calif.; Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y.; Los Angeles; Raleigh, N.C.; and Grand Rapids, Mich., all averaged more than 30 showings in the first five days, according to the ShowingTime index.

The Northeast was the only major region of the U.S. to post a drop in showings compared to 2020, according to ShowingTime. On the other hand, year-over-year jumps in showing traffic were highest in the South – up 20.5% – followed by a 14.4% increase in the West and a 14.1% uptick in the Midwest.

Source: ShowingTime

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


NAR: ‘Independent Contractor’ Bill Should Exempt Realtors

NAR says it faces “steep resistance” but will keep advocating for a Realtor exemption to proposals: “Congress must recognize real estate’s unique place in the economy.”

WASHINGTON – A U.S. Senate committee held a hearing Thursday on the proposed Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which targets the independent contractor status of millions of Americans. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says parts of the bill face steep resistance on Capitol Hill, but that the NAR advocacy team vows to remain vigilant and engaged with lawmakers on the issue.

“As long as this bill is active, we will work to include language protecting existing state definitions of ‘employer’ and ‘employee’ and ensure our industry is protected,” says Shannon McGahn, NAR’s chief advocacy officer. “Around 87% of NAR’s 1.4 million members are independent contractors, most of whom choose this classification. Congress must recognize real estate’s unique place in the economy and support this longstanding federal recognition.”

Earlier this year, NAR urged members not to panic over the legislation. Contrary to a report at the time, the PRO Act is not and never has been close to imminent passage in the Senate.

In recent months, NAR says it has intensified its ongoing educational campaign highlighting how crucial the independent contractor classification is to the real estate industry. NAR’s advocacy team argues that provisions in the PRO Act should not apply to real estate professionals, and bipartisan support for a real estate-specific exemption remains consistent.

While securing the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation through the Senate is unlikely, McGahn notes that lawmakers have other avenues to push the legislation forward.

“NAR is confident in our position, but we are not letting our guard down given the stakes,” McGahn says. “We raised this issue during our May legislative meetings with more than 500 members of Congress. It was one of our top three legislative priorities this year.”

NAR offers more information about efforts to protect Realtors’ independent contractors status on its website.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


HUD Offers $19M to Fight Housing Discrimination

Private fair housing groups may request money and use it to blind test housing groups, respond to complaints or propose new projects related to COVID-19 challenges.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has $19.4 million available to help HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) agencies conduct activities that address discriminatory housing practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds – provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021 – will allow private fair housing enforcement organizations to respond to fair housing inquires and complaints, conduct fair housing testing, and create education and outreach activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds can also be used to address fair housing issues affecting individuals and families experiencing housing instability, “including those who may face displacement due to discriminatory evictions and foreclosures,” according to HUD.

HUD says that the funds can also be used to “equitably expand housing enforcement services for underserved populations who need their services the most.” To HUD, underserved generally means individuals who submit fair housing complaints and also come from low-income backgrounds or have a disability, as well as people of color, including African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

The money doesn’t have to go only to currently existing programs. HUD says applicants may also propose new fair housing projects relating to discriminatory practices arising in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Housing stability will be a critically important part of America’s continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jeanine Worden, HUD’s acting assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “The funding we’re announcing today will give our fair housing partner organizations the financial resources they need to address various forms of discrimination that may occur as a result of rental and sales practices, as well as changing credit and real estate operations, related to the pandemic.”

This opportunity creates three funding levels for FHIP organizations, based on the average of their three previous annual operating budgets. The three funding award levels include:

  • Level I – up to $75,000 (for organizations with an average annual operating budget of less than $500,000)
  • Level II – up to $125,000 (for organizations with an average annual operating budget of between $500,000 and $700,000)
  • Level III – up to $350,000 (for organizations with an average annual operating budget of greater than $700,000)

Applications must be received by Aug. 18, 2021.

Organizations interested in applying for funding should go to www.Grants.gov to obtain a copy of the specific Notice of Funding Opportunity, forms, instructions and other application materials. Additional information can be found on HUD’s website: www.hud.gov.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®