Mortgage applications and refinance applications increased during the week ending Dec. 11, 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey Mortgage applications increased 1.1 percent week over week during the week ending Dec. 11, 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, which calculates the volume of mortgage loan applications increased 1.1 percent from the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis The index increased 0.4 percent from the week before on an un-adjusted basis.

The refinance index rose week by week by 1 percent and year by year by 105 percent. A great deal of tricky marketing strategies, saying “Government is giving away free money in Florida” misleading qualified mortgage holders to explore options! Meanwhile, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the purchase index increased 2 percent week over week. However the un-adjusted purchase index decreased 2% from the week before, but it was still up 26% year on year.

In a press release, Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and business forecasting, explained how during the week’s survey, dropping mortgage rates continued to have a positive effect on mortgage applications!

U.S.— Treasury rates stayed stable last week, mainly due to uncertainty about the prospects of additional government pandemic-related stimulus, as well as concern about the sharp rise in national COVID-19 incidents, Kan said. As a result, mortgage rates dropped to another survey low, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate declining to 2.85 percent by five basis points. Once again, homeowners reacted to the fall in prices, with refinancing activity growing for the second straight week and up 105 percent for the second straight week.


Kan said in a statement, “The ongoing strength in the housing market has spread into December.” In five weeks, applications for purchasing a home increased for the fourth time, as both conventional and government target markets saw gains. Government purchase applications rose to the highest level since June for the sixth straight week, perhaps a sign that more first-time buyers are exploring the market.

The percentage of refinance applications also subsequently increased, from 72.0 percent on a weekly basis.The average contract interest rate reached a survey low of 2.85 percent on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances, down from 2.90 percent the previous week. For 80 per cent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans, points have decreased to 0.33 from 0.35. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA also saw a drop in the average contract interest rate from 2.97% the previous week to a new survey low of 2.96%. For LTV loans of 80 percent, points grew from 0.40 to 0.42.

The average contract interest rate also touched a survey low of 2.49 percent on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, down from 2.51 percent the previous week. For 80 percent of LTV loans, points declined from 0.35 to 0.29.

Have your heard, it’s a “SELLERS MARKET” we’re experiencing buyers on a waiting list, in most every community in America. Before a home goes on the market, a Realtor or Brokerage more often than not has an inventory of buyers for that property. Providing sellers the opportunity to net the ‘MOST CASH” at closing is the best scenario. A property needs to be introduced to the Multiple Listing Service. We hear rumors of buyers offering as much as $100,000 more for the property than the market price, how credible are these deals.

In a perfect world, this does not hold up. I am experiencing buyers making these offers in communities that will sustain a much larger buy in! Buyers that have portfolios to easily manage a purchase. These communities with values that exceed $800,000 or more and provide incredible amenities, and location, are factors making these deals happen.

In Communities where the homes begin in the mid $300,000 value, and top out close to $800,000 are receiving offers anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 above market value and are closing! Why, these buyers are putting down enough capital to offset the lopsided value that comes in by an appraisal. For example, a home goes on the market for $515,000, the sellers accepts the best of four offers at $545,000, the appraisal comes in at $515,000. Does the lender provide the mortgage for the buyers. Perhaps, as long as the buyers put down, for example $125,000, a lender may make this work. If it’s a CASH offer, no appraisal, survey or additional contingencies hamper the purchase should succeed at closing.

When sellers do not open the door to multiple offer experiences, they may be leaving a great deal of CASH on the table at closing!

15 questions as sellers you need to understand.

This is my organized way that makes sense for my sellers.

Believe it, a seller’s markets is still holding strong across most sectors of the country. In many cities, buyer demand is up while inventory remains low — leaving home buyers battling it out in multiple offer situations. You the seller trying to navigate it all can be daunting.

Having multiple offers can be a great thing, but how do you ensure you choose the best offer, and you do not pass up on an even better one? With multiple-offer situations becoming the norm in hot markets, knowing how to navigate these scenarios is a must, and it’s my job to provide the best possible counsel in this matter.

You are the seller, and you might be tempted to accept the highest offer, but price is only one obstacle. Aside from price, there are many other variables that you should consider as the seller, and it is my job to help you make a decision, not just part of it, based on the whole picture. There are two things we need to recall before we jump into how we assess an offer:

I want to get the absolute best price for my sellers, and we first need to understand your sales goals, to help you do that, are you looking for the most money to make from the sale? Do you need the versatility, or do you just need to sell quickly, to pass on your timeline? Are you able to effectively buy a new home in another location? You find your new home and at this time your current home has NO buyers, how are we getting around this challenge? Knowing these goals for selling ensures we are effective in helping you make the best decision.

We need to prepare you for what to expect until we understand what is most important to you as my seller. You need to understand which purchasing agreement is appropriate based on your objectives and which ones will impede your goals. Terms we need to pay attention to before we start receiving offers, and what these terms mean. Taking the time to understand the process helps to set priorities upfront while helping the you to quickly understand and analyze offers as they come in.

Making sure the terms match with your expectations is the secret to assessing offers. We have found an efficient way to pragmatically evaluate the various aspects of the offer if we

receive an offer on a listing by grouping offer terms into three categories: “SPEED” “CERTAINTY” and “PRICE!”

Speed: How fast do you want to move?

Although speed mostly revolves around the closing date, there are a few other factors to consider, but I will start with the most obvious:

What is the closing date, and does the timetable fit for it? When does the buyer want to close on the home? This one is self explanatory. But more importantly, how closely does your timeline match this date with it? A more urgent date is probably better if you are planning to move out as soon as possible. But if you’re waiting for a new home to close, it’s important to look for a little more versatility, more than likely.

How flexible is your timeline?

If your circumstances require you to move on a specific timeline, is the buyer willing to accommodate that? More flexible buyers might present an offer with a leaseback option, “NOT RECOMMENDED” which could be a great alternative for you as a seller if you need to buy more time before moving out. I also have Mortgage Brokers that maybe able to assist you with a bridge loan. Not too awfully expensive and well worth exploring.

When does the offer expire?

Many offers include an expiration date set by the buyer. This date can be a good indicator of how fast the buyer is looking to move to close the deal. However, this can sometimes put you as a seller in a tricky situation, especially when there are multiple offers on the table, and you need to decide within a short time frame. 

Certainty: How qualified is the buyer?

Once we have considered how well the offer aligns with your timeline, we move on to evaluating the certainty of the offer:

Is it an all-cash offer?

Most times, all-cash offers mean quicker and less risky sales, which is what makes them so appealing. The primary benefit to an all-cash offer is not having to worry about the possibility of an appraisal coming in too low or third-party financing falling through. But even though all-cash offers bring a heightened level of certainty, they often come with a lower price tag, so depending on your goals, they will have to weigh this cost. 

How financially secure is the buyer?

Having a financially stable buyer will help ensure a smooth closing. A few factors can help you determine how financially secure a buyer is: how much they are putting down, their earnest money deposit, and if they are pre-approved or approved for a loan.

Down payment?

Typically, a higher down payment is indicative of a serious and more financially secure buyer. The higher the down payment, the better. Down payments between 20-50 percent are a strong indicator of financial stability.

  • Earnest money deposit: Earnest money is a signal of good faith from the buyers that they want to purchase the home. The buyers will not get this money back if they back out of the deal unless specified in the contract. Typically, buyers will default to 1 percent of the purchase price. An earnest money deposit higher than 1 percent means they are profoundly serious about buying the home.
  • Preapproval: These days, being preapproved for a loan is pretty much a necessity in competitive markets. Even though preapproval “does not guarantee buyers financing,” it’s a good indicator that they’re ready and able to make a purchase.

Are there contingencies?

When a buyer submits an offer with contingencies, they are stipulating additional requirements that must be met before the sale can be finalized. Any contingency included in the contract should be noted and taken into consideration. When presenting offers it is critical that you understand how contingencies might impact the sale.

Financing, appraisal, and inspection contingencies are standard inclusions. Although home-sale contingencies are also common, they do add another layer of complexity to the deal. In any case, the fewer contingencies, the fewer chances the buyers can back out of the sale. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen buyers wave contingencies to craft a stronger offer, and I have seen buyers become diagnosed with Covid and must terminate the Purchase Agreement!

How much is the option fee?

In some states the option fee is a nonrefundable fee paid to the seller at the start of the option period,  Florida has specific timeframe in which the buyers can terminate the contract for ANY reason without risking their earnest money deposit, depending on the type of purchase agreement we accept. This can be specified in the offer instructions. If the buyers terminate, you may get to keep the option fee. In competitive markets, the amount of the option fee is one of the best indicators of certainty. When buyers offer to pay a larger option fee, it suggests they are not afraid to put some skin in the game. 

Price: How much are they offering?

Although price is self-explanatory, there are a few additional factors we always take into account when evaluating an offer. It’s been my experience and we have seen some tricky and hidden clauses that may they’ll end up affecting your net proceeds

Is the buyer offering to pay closing costs?

Generally, both the buyers and the sellers are responsible for paying a portion of the closing costs. But in a competitive market, buyers might offer to pay more than their typical share. Sellers can often negotiate closing costs like the owner’s title policy, in many counties in South Florida it is customary for the buyers to pay the title policy — the third-largest closing cost expense. This is negotiable and can be stated in the purchase agreement.  

You can also negotiate facets such as escrow fees, home warranty fees, HOA transfer fees, recording fees and title insurance fees — all a part of your closing costs. It is important to take these expenses into account when calculating your net proceeds from the sale. 

If needed, will the buyer pay for a new survey?

It is typical for lenders — and title companies — to require a survey before finalizing the buyers’ loan. If the seller has an existing survey, the buyer will often opt to use that, however the buyer’s lender may ask to have it re-certified. In cases where there is no survey, say if it were misplaced or insufficient to meet a lender’s requirements, one party would have to pay to draw a new survey. In their offer, the buyer will indicate which party they expect to pay. Typically, this burden is on the buyer.

Will the buyer pay for the survey endorsement or coverage?

The survey endorsement, also known as survey coverage, protects the buyer against any survey errors. If the buyers opted to use an existing survey provided by you the seller, they would usually add this coverage to their title insurance policy. Because this expense is negotiable, the buyers might stipulate that they or you the seller pay for the coverage, which will ultimately impact your net proceeds.

Is the buyer requesting you the seller pay for the home warranty?

Although home warranties are not required, most buyers choose to purchase one for peace of mind. Sometimes the listing agent will offer to pay this for listing your home. For example, it is standard for the you the seller to pay for the buyers’ home warranty, but the buyers might also choose to pay for it themselves to make their offer more appealing.

Is the buyer offering a leaseback — at what expense?

If you are flexible with this, and in Florida “I do not ever recommend it.”  Buyers who are in-the-know might add the option for a leaseback to their offer, giving you the seller the flexibility to move out on their terms. Typically, the buyers require you the seller to pay rent during this time. But in competitive markets, buyers might agree to lease at an under-market rate or for nothing at all — a gesture that could end up saving you seller a nice chunk of change. When it comes to helping you navigate multiple-offer situations, it’s important for me to provide a comprehensive analysis. But when you receive five, 10 or even more offers, thoroughly evaluating each offer and presenting this information in a clean and organized way that makes sense to you is no easy task.  

I hope I’ve shed some light on the daunting tasks your Realtor has when presenting offers and that phrase, “Highest and best offer,” may not always apply!

  • The buzz is all about how it is a great time to sell your house

In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it is a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy to meet that growing need. This means now is the time to move or is it? In many regions and communities, you can close the deal on your ideal terms.

Even in today’s strong sellers’ market, there are homeowners who are choosing not to sell due to ongoing concerns around the health crisis, financial uncertainty, and life in general. According to Zillow, here are the top three reasons homeowners who are thinking of selling sometime in the next three years are not putting their houses on the market right now:

  • 34% – Life is too uncertain right now
  • 31% – Financial uncertainty
  • 25% – COVID-19 health concerns

If you identify with any of these, you are not alone. Whether it is the future of your employment situation or simply being uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did last year. The good news is we have been revolving, refining, and modifying these daunting challenges, and it’s paying off for those who are choosing to move this year. Many of us are doing two things very well to make selling your property-home possible.

1. Agents Are Implementing Technology in the Process

While abiding by state and local regulations as a top priority, real estate agents are making sales happen safely and effectively by leveraging key pieces of technology. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers and sellers need and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, we have capitalized on the technology buyers find most helpful when deciding on a new home:

We are listening to you, “our audience” and leveraging the tools that help buyers get an initial look at a home without having to step inside. This helps reduce the number of people entering your home, so only those who are very seriously interested need to take the next step: in-person showings.

2. Agents Are Facilitating Safe and Effective In-Person Showings

After leveraging technology, we define serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, agents are following the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and utilizing safe ways to proceed. Here are a few of them, understanding again that the an agent’s top priority is always to follow­ state and local restrictions first:

Getting comfortable with your agent – “A true trusted advisor” – taking these steps under the National Association of Realtors and ERA safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you are in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

If you are in these percentages, you are not alone. Whether it is the future of your employment situation or your uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did last year at this time. The good news is, as a professional, I have spent the majority of 2020 figuring out how to sell homes safely, and it’s paying off for the most part. We at RE/MAX are providing many ways to make selling your home pleasant, safely saturating the media and social marketing platforms.

  • Virtual tours
  • Accurate, detailed, and creative listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood data and statistics
  • Professional, high-quality photos defining your homes qualities
  • Even video chat when available.

We also offer (3D) three dimensional visual tours, because this process is very time consuming, an additional fee or negotiated terms maybe determined if you choose to add this feature to your listing.

2. We encourage safe and successful showings in-person 

After leveraging technology, we follow the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors  (NAR) and use sure ways to proceed if you have serious buyers who still want to see your home in person. Here are a few protocols, knowing again that our top priority is always to first meet state and local constraints:

  • Limiting in-person activity
  • R­­­equiring guests to use alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Removing shoes or covering them with booties
  • Following CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

We insist that you are comfortable with our team and or staff. A true trusted adviser taking these steps under these implemented ERA safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you are in a position where you need to sell your property sooner rather than later.

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist for Zillow “Homeowners who feel life is uncertain right now may think they can still get a strong price if they delay selling until they have more clarity. The catch is that waiting to sell may raise the cost of a trade-up. This fall’s record low mortgage rates, which make a trade-up more affordable monthly, are not guaranteed to last.”

I have found, especially in 55 and older communities, this philosophy is “NOT always the best when sharing their best options.  In this new ERA in our lives, things are shifting quickly, sometimes daily, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. I’m finding that opening your door to new approaches is a game changer, and in most environments is a game-changing venue. When it comes to selling your home while the market is leaning in your favor. As always, a trusted real estate professional is your best option and will safely and effectively navigate all that is new when it comes to making your next move.

Bottom Line

In this new ERA in our lives, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. Opening your doors up to new approaches could be game-changing when it comes to selling your house while the market is leaning in your favor. As always, a trusted real estate professional can help you safely and effectively navigate all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

I’m Passionate about service animals and truly believe in their amazing abilities to detect and protect their owners!

Handling competing disabilities under fair housing laws can be difficult. As an investor this has content pertinent to Owners/Landlords, for example, how does a landlord balance one resident’s request for a service or assistance animal with another resident’s severe allergy to animal dander? Neither the Department of Justice (DOJ) nor the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides much guidance beyond instructing housing providers to  find a way that accommodates both.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently tackled this  issue with a new approach under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. A landlord was faced with a challenging situation when seven (7) months after Ms. Cohen, a resident with severe allergies to pet dander, moved into the no-pet building, a new resident, Mr. Clark, requested and was granted a waiver for his assistance animal. Despite the landlord’s attempt to accommodate both disabilities with use of air purifiers and different stairways, Ms. Cohen continued to experience allergy attacks, ostensibly from exposure to Mr. Clark’s assistance animal. When the landlord refused to evict the dog from the premises, Ms. Cohen filed a lawsuit alleging that the request for an assistance animal wasn’t reasonable because of her severe allergies and should have been denied.

The court resolved the matter by adding a new “priority-in-time” factor into a balancing test. After they deemed both disabilities “equal,” they held that Ms. Cohen had priority because she moved into the building first and as such, the accommodation for Mr. Clark’s assistance animal was unreasonable.

This is a bizarre outcome given federal fair housing laws and the court’s own reasoning. I urge caution before using this holding as a lodestar when faced with competing disabilities. With the devil lodged squarely in the details, a closer inspection of the facts and analysis raises more questions than it answers. While there are many issues with this decision, this post will focus on the “priority-in-time” factor the court created.

The majority opinion failed to explain how they determined that the need for an assistance animal versus the need for a pet-dander free environment was effectively a wash. In a rather odd admission, the court stated that outcome would have been different had the resident requested an accommodation for a seeing-eye dog, essentially finding that sight impairments are more important than mental health issues. Such a finding likely violates the Fair Housing Act if put into practice.

Moreover, this standard puts the housing provider in the uncomfortable position of serving as the arbiter of a disability hierarchy. Housing providers are not qualified to determine whether one disability should take priority over another. The court’s suggestion that housing providers triage impairments in this way lies beyond the scope of their expertise, is inappropriate to expect of them, and increases the risk of violating fair housing laws.

Clearly, housing providers may deny a request for an assistance animal if the specific animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. However, the facts were murky as to whether the dog posed a direct threat to Ms. Cohen. While Ms. Cohen was severely allergic to cats, her allergies to dogs were more speculative. Additionally, she stated that she thought there was a cat in the building, muddling the source of her allergy attacks.

When a request poses a direct threat to others, housing providers are still required to engage in the interactive process to seek alternative accommodations that can eliminate or significantly reduce the threat. The record in this case shows that the landlord failed to fully explore other reasonable alternatives that could have mitigated the risk of triggering an allergy attack, such as designating certain floors as allergy-free or even moving one party to an available unit in another one of the landlord’s nearby buildings. Such options are not ordinarily permissible for reasonable accommodation requests, but because life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, sometimes it’s necessary to engage flexibility and ingenuity to establish the healthiest and safest environment for everyone involved.

The final takeaway? Before denying a reasonable accommodation due to conflicting needs between residents with disabilities, the best course of action is still the most direct: keep the lines of communications open with residents and make sure you contact your attorney.

Content Author Abby Volin