Realtors and brokerages have had a pretty rough time in recent months as COVID-19 has taken hold of the U.S., not unlike other industries. While mortgage rates have hit historic lows, enticing more buyers to purchase homes, your ability to help clients shop for and choose the right home might have been affected.
The personal nature of real estate — client meetings at brick-and-mortar offices, in-person home tours, face-to-face closings — and the limits the virus has imposed on these logistics might have slowed client activity. Additionally, in many markets, buyer demand is up, but inventory is down, with fewer sellers looking to list their homes. These factors, among others, might have cut your commissions enough to apply for pandemic relief.
Now, nearly 4 months after the $2.2 trillion CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) was signed into law, some of the aid programs are expiring. If you took advantage of this program as a realtor or broker, here’s where your CARES benefits stand now.
If your income was drastically affected during the height of quarantine, you might have applied for weekly pandemic unemployment assistance as an independent contractor. This program, which provided an extra $600 weekly federal benefit, is set to expire on July 31st.
However, state-level unemployment benefits have been extended for 13 weeks, expiring December 31st. If you still need financial assistance, be sure to check with your state’s unemployment insurance office to see if you are eligible for additional benefits.
Did you apply for a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program Loan to help cover your payroll costs and other business expenses early on? If you didn’t, it’s still possible to apply for a loan if you need it now that the deadline has been extended to August 8th.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, this loan program provides fully forgiven loans so long as the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Visit SBA.gov for a full rundown of the PPP program and forgiveness rules.
As of June 15th, the SBA resumed accepting applications for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans with no published deadline. These loans are designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Proceeds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continuation of health care benefits, rent, utilities, and debt payments.
These loans are not forgivable, but payments can be deferred for a year after origination. Visit SBA.gov’s EIDL information page for eligibility and application info.
If you, your spouse, or a dependent has been affected by COVID-19, you are eligible to withdraw funds from your 401(k), IRA, 403(b), or other retirement plan early and without the usual 10% early distribution penalty. This 2020 benefit also extends to those who can prove “adverse financial consequences” thanks to reduced work because of the coronavirus.
While this is tempting, keep in mind that taking an early distribution even without the penalty isn’t always smart. NerdWallet has a great primer on the pros and cons of this benefit and the restrictions of the program.
The National Association of Realtors has taken the reins on analyzing the many CARES Act benefits for realtors. Read NAR’s comprehensive guide to realtor CARES Act benefits for information on additional benefits such as mortgage forbearance, a hiatus on student loan repayment, payroll tax credits and more.
COVID-19 work challenges are becoming too common now. I’ve experienced them myself! I hope this information has helped you wade through the benefits available so you can get back to serving your real estate clients in the best way possible.
Let me know how I can help you further! From partnering with your borrowers to get them qualified for the right type of home loan to offering fully virtual closings and sharing coronavirus relief resources — I want to help you get back to business.