Updated: Jan 31
Here are some things to consider when the world is still dealing with COVID-19, record inflation rates, and now, a Russo-Ukrainian war.
by Carolina I. Nunez, Esq.
Surely, by now, you have logged on your social media accounts and have seen several posts of those that are frustrated that they have been searching for a home and have not had an offer accepted. You may have also seen others post about how their rents are increasing to a rate they can no longer afford. There may be others that have reached a point where they may have had to move back in with their parents.
The housing market has become a serious problem from 2020 to 2022. According to the Standard and Poor CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, there has been an 18.8% annual gain in home prices in 2021. This increase has been the highest reported in three-decades. Economists at Zillow Research are now noting that they believe that the prior forecasts were conservative. They are now predicting home values are to increase 4.1% in the first quarter of 2022, with a total increase of approximately 16.4% by the end of 2022.
It is not just home prices that have seen an upward trend—as of today, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped from 3.69% last week to 3.92%. Mortgage rate increases have also fueled the buyer frenzy as buyers felt as though they needed to buy as soon as possible rather than wait for mortgage rates to
increase to a point to reduce their buying power. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications increased by 4.3% during January despite the rising mortgage rates.
Aside from low inventory, COVID-19 has impacted personal lives as well as the
financial stability many individuals and families had. From furloughs, unemployment, or the reduction of working hours – COVID-19 has taken its toll. Two years since the beginning of the pandemic, many Americans may feel as though having a predictable monthly mortgage payment would provide stability and the ability to earn equity. Additionally, with U.S. inflation surging and currently sitting at a 7.5% annual rate, many may find that securing a home is now more important than ever, especially if they are renting. For those that are renting, prices have increased significantly in just a period of a year. Some rental markets have increased an average of 19.3% from December 2020 to December 2021. To make matters worse, in metropolitan markets, such as Miami, median rents increased 49.8% in a year.
As of yesterday, inflation numbers may become more alarming for consumers. Overnight, Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. While this may seem as an overseas problem to many, the implications of a war on the global market will affect our daily lives here at home. Currently, economists have noted that some economic models predict that inflation will increase even faster to a rate of 10%.
What does this mean for you?
With the housing market inventory being low, sellers are likely dealing with multiple offer situations, also known as bidding wars, where buyers are willing to forgo important contractual clauses to have their offer accepted. Buyers are willing to pay well-over asking price, waive appraisal contingencies, and in some situations—even offer to waive inspection contingencies.
While this sounds great for a seller, the situation can become complicated relatively
quickly. Sometimes, after executing the sales contract and the buyer placing the earnest money deposit – they may run into situations where appraisal is significantly higher than they expected, problems with the inspection are greater than anticipated, or loan financing terms have become unfavorable for the buyer. If you have picked an offer that waived all of these contingencies, you may find yourself risking running into a buyer wanting their earnest money deposit back. This is where escrow disputes begin.
When selling a home in this market, it is advisable to not only hire an experienced real estate agent – but it is also a good idea to have an attorney review the terms of the contract on your behalf. Having an attorney and real estate agent that work on your behalf to maximize your profits in the middle of a seller’s market is a safer route than potentially risking financial loss. Remember, a real estate transaction does not involve just you, your real estate agent, or your attorney – it also involves the information the buyer has as well as the expertise of their real estate agent.
Make sure your real estate agent is experienced. An experienced agent communicates all aspects of the transaction and maintains contact with you regularly and with all relevant parties. They have done their research on the subject property taxes, homestead, insurance, county/municipal special assessments, zoning, ordinances, etc.
However, one of the most important things your real estate agent can do is go over a CMA report. This agent prepared report provides insight as to what the comparable market value of the home is based on recent sales in the area. This is important to look at before submitting an offer.
Additionally, while a seller may ask you to waive the inspection contingencies on your contract, it is not a good idea. Placing an offer on a home and agreeing to waive the inspection means that you lose your earnest money deposit in the event the inspection notes a significant defect in the home or potential repair. Always protect your finances.
While it may take longer for you to buy a home, it is also not a good idea to offer over asking prices unless you are certain that you have the funds to cover the difference if the home appraises less than the seller expected. Remember, all sellers believe that their home is special, so they oftentimes pressure a real estate agent to list the home higher than what it is really worth.
You have rights under Chapter 83 the Florida Statutes. The first step is to look at your lease terms. Is your lease verbal/unwritten? If it is written, for how long is your term and what are the terms? The more familiar you become with your lease agreement, the more equipped you are when it comes to handling a landlord that you have begin to have disputes with. Today, with many landlords not being familiar with Florida law and/or the simple desire to charge more, many landlords may wrongfully attempt to increase your rent in the middle of your lease term. Some may even threaten eviction.
Here are some tips to handle the situation:
· Point out that the terms of the contract are valid for the specified time and terms/conditions may not be changed (unless noted otherwise) without the approval of both parties.
· This means that a rent increase cannot be enforced during your current lease.
If you are currently renting and are struggling financially, it may be tough for you to pay the rent, credit card bills, car note, medical bills, and more. Before you hit the point where you are unable to pay the rent in an attempt to comply with your other financial obligations, seek assistance as soon as possible. Remember, a landlord may legally pursue an eviction for failure to pay rent. Many individuals may have the option to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharge most of their medical bills, past due debt, delinquent loans, and credit card bills.
With so many moving parts in real estate transactions, it would be advisable to consider hiring an attorney to review the real estate contract with you or handle your real estate associated disputes. Contact The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A. today online or call us at 407-376-2229 or 386-224-6544 to schedule your free consultation at one of our offices near Orlando in Winter Park or Daytona Beach so that you can learn more about your rights.