From Mayo Clinic News Network

(TNS)—With some gyms closed and a number of people working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for many people to get in their daily workout. Sedentary behavior, including sitting for long periods of time, can contribute to adverse health effects, including something referred to as “sitting disease.”

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dani P. Johnson, a wellness physical therapist with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, demonstrates how to integrate more movement into your daily life.

Whether you’re working in an office or from home, Johnson suggests taking breaks every 30-45 minutes throughout your day to perform some simple stretches.

“Our bodies can get stiff. You know, we’re always kind of in this hunched-over position when we’re at our desks and working, so we really want to open up our chest,” says Johnson.

“One way to do that is just by doing some simple shoulder rolls, so just bringing the shoulders back and down.”
“Another really great activity you can do using a wall is just coming to the wall, putting the back of your hands up on the wall, and just sliding your hands up and down nice and slow,” says Johnson.

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to gym equipment. Johnson says your desk can be a great exercise tool.

“Simply by putting your hands on the desk and stretching out, so you’re moving your bottom back, bringing your arms forward,” says Johnson.

Whether you try these stretches or take a break to go for a walk, all movement counts.

Anita Ginsburg writing for RISMedia’s Housecall posted the following:

Now that the summer heat is slowly dissipating, it’s time to start prepping your air conditioner for the cooler fall temperatures. Depending on where you live in the U.S., you might not expect to use your AC unit much this fall, and you might not use it at all during the winter.

Related: Essential Maintenance to Conduct on Newly Purchased Homes

Take some time to get ready to shut it down for the season while ensuring the unit is in good condition for next year. Here are some simple ways to maintain your AC unit:

Check Performance

Turn on your AC specifically to study how it performs. How long does it take to reach the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat? Is the air adequately cool? Does the unit make funny noises or emit strange sounds? Take note of anything out of the ordinary that needs attention before you turn it off for good this fall. It’s better to address issues now when repair or replacement costs will be lower than when they pick up again next spring.

Monitor Temperature Gauge

As you check your AC unit, keep an eye on the thermostat to see if the temperature stays where you want it to. If the room temperature vacillates or if the unit seems to run for several minutes before cooling the air to the specified temperature, you may have a problem. A thermostat that does not register the actual temperature or maintain the programmed temperature should be checked by a technician.

Schedule Maintenance

An annual inspection and assessment of your AC equipment is a good idea even when everything seems to be working fine. You may have gotten used to a small motor whine or a faint burning smell; this usually suggests that the unit is working extra hard to do its job. A yearly check can reassure you that all is well and ready for the next warm season. Small problems can be diagnosed with recommendations by the expert.

Get Repairs Taken Care Of

If a problem is detected during the inspection, have the AC repair work done promptly. Waiting for warm weather to roll around again could allow the problem to get worse and, as mentioned, service and equipment prices could go up in price. Having the work done now means that your air conditioning will be ready for you to enjoy on the first hot day next year.

Air conditioning is one of those home amenities that we often take for granted until it stops working. Keep your AC unit in good condition so that you can enjoy its cooling comfort for years to come!

Zillow: Buyer Demand Continues Outpacing New Supply

Let me preface this report by saying that due to the shortage of homes in the area and in certain price ranges, newly listed homes are under contract in less than 12 hours.  Sometimes the seller will ask for multiple offers in a “best and final” contract solicitation.  In order to be prepared for such an event, have at least a bank letter and be prepared to respond as quickly as possible.


Zillow: Buyer Demand Continues Outpacing New Supply

By RISMedia Staff

More sellers are making their way onto the market, but it’s still not enough to offset a supply shortage as a frenzy of buyers look to take advantage of low interest rates. According to Zillow’s most recent Weekly Market Report, buyer demand is still outpacing new supply.

For the week ending Aug. 22, newly pending sales were up 16.5 percent YoY—the biggest increase since mid-February. In addition, homes are selling faster—coming off the market in just 13 days, which is also 13 days sooner than last year.

While the inventory gap is narrowing, new for-sale listings were still down 10.6 percent YoY that week. And because of the quick market turnaround, total for-sale inventory has fallen further below last year’s level—as of last week, there were 29.8 percent fewer homes on the market than the same time last year.

This is causing prices to continue rising. For the week, the median U.S. list price was $345,255—8.3 percent higher YoY and the biggest annual change since the week ending July 13. The median sale price was $277,500—5.1 percent over last year’s number. 

Kathleen Howley writing for Housing Wire wrote the following:

Record lows: The average 30-year fixed rate is 2.86% this week, and the 15-year is 2.37%, Freddie Mac says

Average mortgage rates for 30-year and 15-year mortgages fell to all-time lows this week, Freddie Mac said in a report on Thursday.

The 30-year average is 2.86%, breaking the prior low of 2.88% set in the first week of August, and the 15-year average is 2.37%, beating last week’s record low of 2.42%, the mortgage financier said.

The rates are driving demand in the housing market, helping to counter-balance an economic slowdown that showed signs of worsening after the COVID-19 pandemic flared in some of the nation’s largest states in recent months, said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

“These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity,” Khater said.

U.S. home sales surged at a record pace in June and July as purchases that were delayed during pandemic lockdowns were shifted later in the year.

Seasonally adjusted existing-home sales jumped 25% in July, beating the prior record monthly gain of 21% set in June, the National Association of Realtors said in an Aug. 21 report.

The supply of homes on the market was the lowest for any July since NAR started tracking the data about five decades ago, said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Existing home sales in 2020 likely will total 5.4 million, a gain of 1.1% from last year, Yun said. Sales of new houses probably will rise 17% to 800,000, Yun said.

Early in the pandemic, before it was clear the Federal Reserve’s intervention in the bond market would drive mortgage rates to all-time lows, Yun projected home sales in 2020 would plummet 15% this year.

“The buyers are coming in because of the low interest rates – that’s the No. 1 reason in my view,” Yun said in an interview.

Writing for Housingwire, Julia Falcon addressed the migration of homeowners.

The pandemic is pushing homeowners out of the big cities and into rural and suburban areas, pushing up home prices in previously sleepy towns.

In July, less densely populated areas showed more buyer interest than urban areas, Redfin said. Before the pandemic, 9% of homebuyers said they were searching for a home in rural areas. Now, 19% say they are looking at rural options.

The median sale price of homes in rural areas increased 11.3% year over year in the four weeks ending Aug. 2, and rose 9.2% in suburban areas, while homes in urban areas had a smaller home price increase at 6.7%.

“We’ve been speculating about increasing interest in the suburbs and rural areas since the start of the pandemic,” said Redfin Economist Taylor Marr. “Now we’re seeing concrete evidence that rural and suburban neighborhoods are more attractive to homebuyers than the city, partly because working from home means commute times are no longer a major factor for some people.”

As a result of COVID-19, 13% of homebuyers had searched for homes in a different area than originally planned, according to a Redfin survey conducted from July 19 through 21.

Before the pandemic, 37% of homebuyers said they were looking for a home in an urban area, compared to 19% now. The number of homebuyers looking in the suburbs grew – 43% said they were looking for a home in the suburbs before the pandemic and 50% said they are looking in the suburbs now.

Home supply in rural areas went down 37.9% year over year, and down 31.8% in the suburbs in the four weeks ending Aug. 2, Redfin said, compared to a 21.3% decline in urban areas.

Meanwhile, new listings in rural areas fell 14.2% year over year, and dropped 3.6% in suburban neighborhoods. In urban areas, new listings remained flat year over year.

From RISMedia Staff

By necessity, due to the coronavirus pandemic, some homebuyers have been purchasing homes sight-unseen. But is this a trend that’s here to stay? According to a new Zillow® survey, 36 percent of Americans say they are more likely to try purchasing a home completely online during the pandemic, while 30 percent say they would do the same even after outbreak ends.

“We didn’t feel safe getting on a plane so having these digital tools on Zillow allowed us to narrow down our search and find the right home for us and our 8-year-old son,” said Jarrod Schwartz, a sales manager, in the report. “After our real estate agent provided a video tour, we had the confidence to make an offer.”

Sellers are feeling the same way. According to Zillow, 43 percent would try to sell their home entirely online during the pandemic, while 33 percent would still do so after the outbreak ends.

And while homebuyers still want to “walk through” the property in some way, according to the survey, one in three consumers would prefer a virtual or video tour over an in-person tour after the outbreak ends.

Agents predict this is a trend that’s here to stay. Of the Zillow Premier Agents who were surveyed, 31 percent anticipate sight-unseen purchasing will stay even once the outbreak is over. During the outbreak, 64 percent have reported fewer in-person showings.

“The home shopping tradition of loading the family into the minivan and touring open houses all weekend may be over,” said Zillow economist Jeff Tucker. “Now shoppers are realizing they can use virtual tours to either skip in-person shopping, or at least to winnow down their options and visit fewer homes in person, making it easier and less time-consuming to find their next home. That speed advantage can give buyers a leg up in today’s fast-moving market. ”

Mortgage Rates Dip Below 3%

According to Realtor® Magazine the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.98% this week, the lowest rate in Freddie Mac’s records dating back to 1971.

“The drop has led to increased home buyer demand and, these low rates have been capitalized into asset prices in support of the financial markets,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, the countervailing force for the economy has been the rise in new virus cases which has caused the economic recovery to stagnate, and this economic pause puts many temporary layoffs at risk of ossifying into permanent job losses.”

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending July 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.98%, with an average 0.7 point, falling from a 3.03% average last week. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 3.81%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.48%, with an average 0.7 point, falling from last week’s 2.51% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.23%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.06%, with an average 0.3 point, rising slightly from last week’s 3.02% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.48%.

Freddie Mac reports average commitment rates along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining a mortgage.

RISMedia reported from the Mortgage Bankers Association the following:

The mortgage space continues to bounce back amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). In June, new mortgage applications were up. And for the week of July 5, forbearance rates continued to post declines. Here’s the breakdown:

New Home Mortgage Applications

According to the MBA’s Builder Application Survey, in June, mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 54.1 percent YoY. Compared to the previous month, applications increased by 20 percent.

Conventional loans made up 65.1 percent of loan applications, while FHA loans composed 22.6 percent, RHS/USDA loans composed 1.0 percent and VA loans composed 11.2 percent. In June, the average loan size of new homes increased from $332,793 in May to $338,589.

“The new home purchase market continues to recover—applications surged 20 percent in June, and although this is not adjusted for seasonal impacts, it is another piece of data indicating that homebuying activity that was delayed by the pandemic in March and April is just being realized later in the season. The fact that applications are up over 50 percent from last June further reinforces that point,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “MBA estimates that new home sales in June increased 15 percent to a seasonally adjusted pace of 774,000 units—which would be the strongest level of activity since January 2020.”

Added Kan, “We do anticipate that new home construction will speed up to attempt to better meet demand. However, with the low level of homes for sale on the market, the sustainability of the upward trend in home purchase activity will hinge on supply ramping up more rapidly.”

Mortgages in Forbearance

According to the MBA’s latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey, forbearance rates decreased by 21 basis points as of July 5. The total number of loans in forbearance is now 4.1 million—8.18 percent of servicers’ portfolio volume.

For the fifth week in a row, the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance decreased—dropping to 6.07 percent, a 10-basis-point improvement. Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance also decreased, by 116 basis points to 10.56 percent. For private-label securities, the share increased 85 basis points to 10.93 percent. And for loans in forbearance for depositary services, the share dropped to 8.80 percent. The percentage of loans in forbearance held by independent mortgage bank services decreased to 8.10 percent.

“The share of loans in forbearance continues to decrease, as more workers are brought back from temporary layoffs. However, our survey reveals a notable shift in the location of many FHA and VA loans, which have been bought out of Ginnie Mae pools—predominantly by bank servicers—and moved onto bank balance sheets,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist. “As a result, there was a sharp drop in the share of Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance, and an offsetting increase in the share of portfolio loans in forbearance. These buyouts enable servicers to stop advancing principal and interest payments, and to work with borrowers in the hope that they can begin paying again before they are re-securitized into Ginnie Mae pools.”

Added Fratantoni, “Forty-three percent of loans in forbearance are now in an extension following their initial forbearance term, while more than 10 percent of borrowers entered into a deferral plan to exit forbearance—down from 16 percent the week prior. For those exiting forbearance over the next several months, we expect to see many of the borrowers with GSE loans to utilize the deferral option.”

A Bit of Advice…

Rebecca Donatelli, Realtor ® with the National Association of Realtors YPN Advisory Board writing for RISMedia shares the following advice to agents and buyers.

With a rapidly changing market and low inventory, homes are selling faster than ever. New listings can have several offers before your clients even have a chance to see the home. With this being the case, not only do you have to move quickly, you have to come prepared with offers that stand out above the others.

While it can be difficult to be the first of multiple offers coming in, you can make your offer the one that will get your clients the home they have fallen in love with. Check out some of the tips below.

Communicate With the Listing Agent

When your clients decided to purchase a home, they chose you to be the one to guide them through the process. When they find a home that they like, you have to move quickly to get the process going. The first thing you should do is contact the listing agent for the home.

When you contact the listing agent, ask questions about the home’s availability and if there are already other offers on the table for the home. If there are offers, try to find out what your clients are up against. Keep in mind that the listing agent may not be able to disclose anything to you at the request of the seller.

You should also inquire about the seller’s preferences; they may want you to use a specific title company or may have a specific timeline or possession date that would be convenient for them. The more you can make your clients’ offer align with the seller’s goals, the better chance you have of getting the home your clients want.

Keep Your Offer Simple

There is nothing simple about making an offer on a home. When your clients put in an offer, the best way to make it stand out is to keep the offer simple. The fewer contingencies that are put in place, the better. Some contingencies you might put in place range from a financing contingency to a home inspection contingency.

Also, when you put in an offer, keep in mind that it’s not all about price. Your client may be prepared to go well over asking, but remember that the best offer will be the sum of the terms that work best for the seller. While you want to make sure that your clients get the home, you don’t want them to overextend themselves.

Be Ready to Move Fast

When a new client decides to move forward with their home search, they will want to begin seeing homes. If you have an incredibly busy schedule, you may want to team up with your broker or another agent who can help show homes to your clients, so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to show the perfect home. Another option is to hire a licensed showing agent who can handle all of the showings and pass the transaction over to you once your clients find the home they want.

One Last Thing…

Writing an offer can be challenging and it takes time for the sellers and the listing agent to go through the offer and make their decision. Make sure to let your clients know that the waiting process is normal and can take a few days.

One thing you can do to make the main points of your offer stand out is to make a one-pager that outlines the terms and contingencies on the front of the offer package. This will give the seller and listing agent the opportunity to see what the offer entails from the beginning.

During a hot market where homes are selling as fast, you have to be diligent in writing your offer so that they will stand out from the rest.

Housing Stats From CMLS for July, 2020

Strong buyer demand in the face of a constrained supply of homes for sale continues to be the story again this month.

New construction activity, in the form of housing starts as reported by the Department of Commerce, has picked up in recent weeks but remains well below levels required to substantially increase the number of homes for sale. Continued low interest rates are expected to maintain healthy buyer activity, while reluctant sellers and the changing season are likely to drag the inventory of homes for sale lower into the late summer and early fall market. For the 12-month period spanning August 2019 through July 2020, Pending Sales in the CMLS region were up 5.4 percent overall. The price range with the largest gain in sales was the $300,001 and Above range, where they increased 20.3 percent.

The overall Median Sales Price was up 6.8 percent to $189,000. The property type with the largest price gain was the Single-Family Homes segment, where prices increased 6.9 percent to $194,500. The price range that tended to sell the quickest was the $100,001 to $150,000 range at 38 days; the price range that tended to sell the slowest was the $300,001 and Above range at 73 days. Market-wide, inventory levels were down 31.4 percent.

The property type that lost the least inventory was the Condos segment, where it decreased 5.3 percent. That amounts to 1.6 months supply for Single-Family homes and 2.3 months supply for Condos.