All Your Real Estate & Financial Options during the COVID-19 Crisis
May 01, 2020 May 01, 2020
It's no secret that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is not only affecting people's physical health, but also their financial health. While a recovery is imminent, with individuals and businesses itching to get back to normal, it only makes sense to keep yourself as financially stable as possible as we ride out this wave together.
With a second round of approximately $480 billion in government funding just approved to help us and the economy stay afloat, we've compiled a comprehensive list of all the Federal, State and private sector resources available (and yet to come), especially from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, that will help you and your small business survive these unusual times:
Summary of COVID-19 Financial Resources
- Delayed Appraisals
- HOA Fee / Condo Maintenance Fee - Payment Plans
- Mortgage Loan Forbearance
- Foreclosure Protection
- Other Options - Short Sale, Deed in Lieu, Foreclosure
- Eviction Protection
- Rent Incentives, Reductions or Forgiveness
- Mortgage Loan Forbearance
- CARES Act - Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- CARES Act - Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (EIDL)
- CARES Act - Small Business Administration (SBA) Express Bridge Loans
- CARES Act - Small Business Administration (SBA) Debt Relief
- Florida State - Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund
- Florida State - State Small Business Credit Initiative
- Florida State - Microfinance Guarantee Program
- City of Miami - Small Business Emergency Loan Program
- City of Miami - Business Continuity Micro Enterprise Program
- JP Morgan Chase Small Business Loans
- PayPal Small Business Loan
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund
- Hello Alice COVID-19 Business for All Emergency Grant
- Salesforce Care Small Business Grants
- Federal Stimulus Checks
- Florida Reemployment Benefits
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- City of Miami Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance Program
- Florida, Power & Light Resources
- United Way & Miami Herald Miami Pandemic Assistance Program
- Restaurant & Hospitality Workers Relief Funds
Real Estate Resources - Buyers, Sellers and Agents
The real estate industry has reacted smartly and swiftly to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to moving to virtual showings and closings, the industry has quickly united to provide supportive information, market snapshots and reactions, and other helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow agents.
Here are more important resources to help navigate real estate transactions during this unprecedented time of social distancing and restrictions.
Contract Negotiations & Closings
COVID-19 Contract Extension Addendum - Most contract negotiations and closings are able to take place, if not just a bit slower than typical. However, to protect all parties, the Florida Realtors Association has provided a COVID-19 contract extension addendum that allows for time periods and dates to be extended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote Notaries - While not completely COVID-19 related, the new law effective January 1, 2020, allowing remote notaries (approved Jan. 1, 2020) should help facilitate transactions and closings since buyers and sellers no longer have to be in the same room. Here's what you need to know.
Bank appraisals can be postponed up to 120 days after the mortgage has closed for mortgages that banks intend to keep in their portfolios, according to new guidance issued by banking regulators including the FDIC. The rule is in effect until the end of the year. The aim of the new rule is to "extend financing to creditworthy households and businesses quickly in the wake of the national emergency" during the COVID-19 pandemic. US Bank provided similar guidance on "flexibilities" for completing appraisals and mortgages.
For Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac mortgages, "qualifying principal or primary residence loans, desktop appraisals and exterior-only appraisals" are now being considered acceptable. You can read more here.
HOA Fee / Condo Maintenance Fees - Payment Plans
If you're suffering financial distress because of COVID-19 and own your condo, a first place to look to reduce some of your burden is your own Condo Board Association. Before you resort to mortgage loan forbearance or a short sale, check with your HOA or condo board to ask if a payment plan for your HOA fees may be an option. Many property maintenance companies and boards are allowing payment deferrals and dropping late payments fees. Ask if a payment plan is available for your HOA fees.
Mortgage Loan Forbearance - CARES Act
If you are having trouble or suspect you may need more time to pay your mortgage loan payments, forbearance may be an option. The CARES Act also provides protection for homeowners with federally backed mortgages. You can receive forbearance on your federally backed mortgage loan for up to 60 days, with the potential for up to four 30-day extensions. Additionally, there is a foreclosure and eviction moratorium in place through August 31, 2020. All foreclosures currently in effect must be halted and no new foreclosure or eviction proceedings may begin. Additionally, no fees, penalties, or added interest may be charged on delayed payments. You can look here if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Similarly, Freddie Mac is offering forbearance plans for their borrowers, including the following:
- Providing mortgage forbearance for up to 12 months
- Waiving assessments of penalties and late fees
- Offering loan modification options that lower payments or keep payments the same after the forbearance period
Click here for more Freddie Mac information.
Loan Forbearance & Foreclosure Protection - Lenders & Banking Institutions
Additionally, several major lenders are offering their own policies for forbearance and mortgage loan assistance during this time, including but not limited to the following. However, if you're considering taking a mortgage loan forbearance, be sure to ask your lender about what kind of credit reporting they will do once you are in forbearance. While many lenders are stating that they will not report you late on payments, they may report that your loan is in forbearance, which can result in a negative credit rating.
- US Bank Mortgage Loan Payment Assistance
US Bank is offering 90-day forbearance for mortgage loans. Borrowers will not be charged any late fees during this time, and their loan will remain current and no negative credit bureau reporting will be made on this plan. US Bank is also currently suspending Foreclosure Sales and Evictions.
- Citibank Mortgage Loan Payment Assistance
Citi's mortgage sub-servicer Cenlar FSB is offering 90-day forbearance for Citi's mortgage loans where the borrower is experiencing hardship, during which there will be no negative reporting to the credit bureaus for up-to-date customers. In addition, foreclosures and evictions have been paused. For questions, please contact them directly at 1-855-839-6253.
- Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is offering fee waivers, payment deferrals and other benefits for mortgage loan customers who contact the company. The bank has suspended residential property foreclosure sales and evictions. Additionally, the Wells Fargo Foundation will distribute $175 million in donations for food, shelter, small business and housing stability, and for public health organizations.
- TD Bank
TD Bank is offering deferment of mortgage loans and TD Home Equity FlexLine payments for up to 6 months, however, interest will accrue. Personal loan, home equity and residential mortgage customers should call 1-800-742-2651 for assistance.
Other Options - Short Sale, Deed in Lieu, Foreclosure
If you've already had your home or condo on the market for some time, or you're afraid you can't make your mortgage payments or pay off the amount owed after a forbearance expires, you have a few options: a short-sale, deed in lieu or foreclosure.
- Short Sale
A short sale is when the lender agrees to let you sell the property and get the most you possible money can for the property from a buyer. This usually requires you proving to your lender you have hardship to pay, but the benefits are that sometimes you can get moving expenses from the bank, you may be able to recover some of your equity, and you typically save the lender lots of money without having to go through the foreclosure process.
A short sale also minimizes the net loss to the bank, which will then mean you will have less potential liability, and your credit report takes less of a hit than foreclosures and the negative credit impact doesn't last nearly as long. This means you'll be able to get another mortgage sooner. Fannie Mae and FHA guidelines generally allow re-application for another mortgage from between two to four years. Talk to your real estate agent, a real estate attorney and lender about your options. You can read more about short sales here. Most lenders right now don't want to have to deal with thousands of potential short sales or worse, foreclosures.
- Deed in Lieu (of Foreclosure)
If a short sale isn't an option, a deed in lieu is basically a friendly foreclosure, where you agree to give the property back to the bank. If you're upside down on your mortgage, this could be an option. This would typically require you to exit your property more quickly, buying you less time. Sometimes banks prefer this over short sales as a way of loss mitigation, and is faster and less costly to the bank than a full foreclosure process.
Most banks have requirements for a deed in lieu, such as that the property has already been for sale. Check with your lender if such an option is available. Also, consult an attorney to be sure of the pros and cons. However, this will negatively affect your credit hard, more so than a short sale, but likely less than a full foreclosure. Also, if you take this route and your bank approves it, make sure the deed in lieu of foreclosure completely releases you from all future payments and liability on the property. Always check with a real estate attorney for all of the financial and tax implications.
If neither a short sale or deed in lieu are options for you, you can stop making payments on your property and wait for the lender to go through the courts to force a foreclosure, which can be a lengthy process. Unlike a short sale, where you're still in control of the sale, in a foreclosure, the bank is in control. You can possibly hire an attorney to fight or delay the foreclosure.
Just know that a foreclosure will hit your credit hard, typically lasting seven years on your credit report. This means it will be hard to get another mortgage for some time, although foreclosures due to extenuating circumstances can allow you to get a mortgage sooner depending on the lender. Again, speak with your attorney and your lender.
According to the CARES Act, no landlord can serve a notice to pay rent or vacate any premises while the 120-day moratorium is in place, i.e. until the 31st of August, 2020. This applies to all tenants living in federally subsidized housing, or where a landlord has a federally-backed mortgage from the likes of FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac. Additionally, per the law, you cannot be evicted solely for not paying your rent for six months. And your landlord also cannot charge you late fees during this time or penalties for not paying your rent. Here is a non-exhaustive list of multifamily properties given protection from eviction under CARES.
For those who do not fall under the above category (living in federally subsidized housing, or where a landlord has a federally-backed mortgage), the CARES Act provides them protection from eviction till May 17. However, their landlord can serve them a 3-day notice to pay rent or vacate during this time.
In Florida, there's also a Statewide moratorium suspending all evictions due to non-payment of rent and foreclosures until August 1, 2020. In addition, the Florida Supreme Court suspended Florida's Clerks of Court from issuing writs of possession, meaning sheriffs cannot remove tenants' possessions from leased premises, even if a final judgment has been rendered in an eviction. This order will remain in effect until July 25, 2020, and prevents removal of tenants for an additional 30 days.
If you live in Miami-Dade County, Mayor Gimenez issued an indefinite moratorium on eviction proceedings. However, all rent will continue to fall due and you will be liable to pay the same at a later date. It is highly recommended that you work out a payment plan with your landlord.
Rent Incentives, Reductions or Forgiveness
For people needing to rent soon or actively looking for rentals, it's all about timing. Here are some key notes:
If a property is vacant, landlords and leasing companies may be more flexible than usual. Ask about any rent incentives, such as one or two months free rent upon lease signing.
If you are up for renewal, it's likely the landlord will want to keep you and you are in a better position to negotiate. The landlord may give you a reduced rent to keep you, or if you want to go month to month, possibly an even further reduced rent. If you're already on a month to month arrangement, consider asking for a reduced rent. I
If you are in a lease and you can demonstrate hardship, meaning you have been laid-off or had reduced hours, and/or if you have been ill or been caring for someone ill with the COVID-19 virus, have a conversation with your landlord. It's not uncommon that arrangements for partial rent payments could be made, with the idea that you will pay later when things go back to normal. Rent forgiveness is unlikely but it never hurts to ask.
If you are struggling to pay your rent, you can also contact the Freddie Mac Renter Helpline at 800-404-3097.
Mortgage Forbearance - If you are a landlord with a mortgage on a multifamily home and are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis, you have similar protection as those of homeowners, allowing you a 30-day forbearance on payments and up to two 30-day extensions.
Foreclosure Protection - While there are no uniform guidelines on foreclosures, those with a federally-backed mortgage loan (FHA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, VA, Dept. of Agriculture) have a 60-day foreclosure suspension. No foreclosure-related action such as a lawsuit, eviction, or sale will take place during this relief period. Further, homeowners affected by COVID-19 can request forbearance from mortgage payments for up to 180 days, and an extension of up to another 180 days.
After the first round of federal funding for the CARES Act was depleted within weeks, a second tranche of approximately $480 billion has recently been approved to refund the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. Under the latest agreements, $310 billion will go to the PPP, and an additional $60 billion will fund the EIDL program. Of the $310 billion for the PPP, $60 billion will go to small banks to help self-employed individuals and businesses that don't have working relationships with big banks.
Per the CARES Act, there are four types of emergency assistance for small businesses. These loans and financial assistance programs are being administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SBA-approved lenders, such as JP Morgan Chase, TD Bank, Citibank, US Bank, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and other major lending institutions.
This loan program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program, up to $100,000 for each employee, determined by the lender after review of the company's payroll. Additionally, loans of up to $10 million can be made. For more information, a Fact Sheet for PPP can be read here.
The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support along with a $10,000 advance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans, meant for companies with less than 500 employees or sole proprietors, may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
These bridge loans enable small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic by automatically paying and/or deferring charges on certain new and existing SBA loans, including the following:
- Automatically paying the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.
- Automatically paying the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
- Providing automatic deferments through December 31, 2020 for current SBA Serviced Disaster (Home and Business) Loans if your disaster loan was in "regular servicing" status on March 1, 2020.
For now, all funds assigned for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) have run out. However, the Trump administration and Congress are currently debating how much to add to the pool and by when. It is expected that the next phase of funding could add $300B to the PPP program and $50B to the Small Business Disaster Fund. And, even though no new applications can be entertained until Congress signs off additional funding, it is recommended to keep an eye on this page.
For questions, you can contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CARES Act is also deferring tax payment for corporations until October 15, 2020. Small businesses may also defer federal payroll taxes until Dec. 31, 2021. However, 50% of the tax will be due at that date, while the remaining tax must be paid by Dec. 31, 2022.
While this Small Business Guide provides more details on eligibility, application, use, and repayment of the PPP, EIDL and SBA Debt Relief Program in Florida (mostly detailed above), the following State-funded resources are also available:
Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, eligible businesses can get up to $500,000 in financing for inventory purchases, construction, working capital, machinery purchases, equipment financing, and more. Call 833-832-4494 or email FloridaBusinessLoanFund@deo.myflorida.com for more information.
This state program extends loans to qualified businesses such as commercial lenders, credit unions, and Certified Development Finance Institutions to reduce their credit risk. With a loan participation of 5-50% of the original amount, lenders can only use the proceeds for "business purposes". Loan amounts can range from a minimum of $2,50,000 to a maximum of $5,000,000.
This loan program provides targeted guarantees to loans given to eligible entrepreneurs and small businesses in Florida. Such guarantees can only be offered on loans between $50,000 and $250,000, with guarantees not exceeding 50 percent of the total loan amount.
The Small Business Emergency Loan Program (SBELP) is designed to provide loans between $5,000 and $20,000 to qualified, for-profit businesses located in the City of Miami who were deemed as non-essential businesses, and therefore, forced to close their operations which resulted in loss of revenue and jobs. The loan can be forgiven if certain criteria are met. Otherwise, the loan will have a 5-year term at 1%. This program will help cover eligible business expenses including, but not limited to, rent, salaries of current employees, and utilities. Applications open May 4 at 12:00 pm. Click here for eligibility and how to apply. If you would like one-on-one support from a member of the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Small Business Task Force, email LoanAssistance@miamidda.com to request help.
The Business Continuity Micro Enterprise Program is designed to provide grants up to $10,000, to qualified, for-profit micro-enterprises located in the City of Miami that were deemed as non-essential businesses, and therefore, forced to close due to COVID-19. This program provides funds to be used exclusively for the business, whose owner(s) must be considered low income, to remain feasible for the next three (3) months and such expenses will include rent, salaries of employees, payment of utilities, licenses, insurance, and other eligible expenditures pre-approved by the City of Miami. Applications open May 4 at 12:00 pm. Click here for eligibility and information on how to apply.
If you're going to turn to traditional banks in this time, just expect a lengthy process and a lot bureaucracy -- they're already inundated with the CARES Act SBA requirements as well as servicing their own loans. That said, as part of a larger $50 million philanthropic effort to help during the crisis, JPMorgan Chase has allocated $5 million to "assist small businesses vulnerable to significant economic hardships" in the U.S., as well as $2 million to nonprofit partners.
The bank is also be working at the community level to provide low or zero-interest loans and interest rate buydowns to owners. More information on the bank offerings of various short-term, small business loans is here.
Alternative lenders often have more agility and ability to make loans and make them faster. PayPal has received great reviews for their small business loans -- borrowers note that they are funded quickly, have terms that are fair and easy to understand and payments that are typically automatically deducted.
So during an unprecedented time like this one of COVID-19, PayPal's small business loan program may be ideal. If your small business has been in operation for at least 6 months and has at least $42,000 in total annual revenue, PayPal offers fixed-rate small business loans of between $5,000 - $500,000. No interest is due if the loan is paid within 6 months.
PayPal also is approved to serve as a PPP loan provider under the CARES Act. Given PayPal positive track record with its own Small Business loans, accessing the PPP loan through them may be a great option. Under the PPP loan, you can borrow up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll expenses without any fees, and no personal guarantee or collateral required. The loan has a 2-year term with a 1% fixed interest rate, with no payments required for the first 6 months, but interest will accrue. According to PayPal, up to 100% of the total loan amount and accrued interest can be forgiven if used for eligible, approved expenses. Now that more funding is imminent, to apply via PayPal for a PPP loan, click here.
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses affected by COVID-19. To be eligible to apply, your business must have between 2-50 employees and have been in operation for over a year. Florida businesses can apply here by May 6, 2020.
Verizon donated $2.5 million to offer grants of $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000 to small businesses experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. Grants are prioritizing minority businesses, including "entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically underserved places who don't have access to flexible, affordable capital." Grant applications must be submitted by the end of April 28, 2020. To apply, click here.
Hello Alice, with support from Verizon, Silicon Valley Bank, eBay and others, is offering immediate $10,000 grants to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The company has also set up a COVID-19 Business Resource Center, which offers additional financial resources and business support. Apply now here.
Salesforce is providing $10,000 grants to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. These grants will support small businesses as they work to replenish supplies, pay salaries, pivot to adapt to these challenging times and more. To qualify, your company must have between 2-50 employees, have been in business for two full years as of March 2020, and have annual revenue between $250k and $2 million. To apply, click here.
Federal Stimulus Aid for Individuals/Economic Payment (EIC) Checks
In addition to the above SBA initiatives, the government has also begun sending one-time stimulus checks to individuals to help offset financial costs during these times as part of the CARES Act. Here's a quick summary of payments that each tax-paying U.S. citizen will receive, according to the Act:
- Each individual with no children will receive a one-time direct deposit of $1,200.
- Married couples without children receive $2,400.
- Individuals or married couples will receive an additional $500 for each child.
If you have not already received your IRS Stimulus check, you must have filed your 2019 or 2018 taxes. Those receiving Social Security will automatically be eligible to receive their payments. To check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment, go here. An FAQ on the Federal Stimulus Aid for Individual Payments can be found here.
Those who have permanently or temporarily lost their jobs, due to COVID-19, out of no fault of theirs, can apply for Florida's Reemployment Assistance benefits here.
However, before doing so, a quick read of the most recent version of the Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide (with updated information on the CARES Act and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program as of April 21, 2020), Claimant Guide, and this FAQ is highly recommended to understand eligibility criteria and the application process.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends to freelancers, independent contractors, workers seeking part-time work, workers without enough work history for FRA, and workers who do not otherwise qualify for benefits under the Federal or State Laws.
However, you still must apply through the Florida Reemployment Assistance portal, and expect to be initially denied and then reassigned as the process is more formalized.
Programs included in the PUA CARES Act are:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) - Those found eligible under Florida's Reemployment Assistance program can receive an additional $600 per week benefit through July 31, 2020. This benefit is available for weeks claimed March 29, 2020 – July 31, 2020 in addition to the funds owed under Florida law to individuals.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – This program is still being implemented and is set to provide up to $275 benefit per week to those not ordinarily eligible for Reemployment Assistance, in addition to the FPUC funding. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees. Florida is currently working to distribute these funds to eligible individuals and will be providing more information, so check this page often.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - This program allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular Reemployment Assistance benefits, in addition to the FPUC funding.This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances, however, all unemployment benefits are subject to employment tax.
If you are ready to apply for PUA benefits, do so here.
The City of Miami Emergency Rental & Utilities Assistance Program will one-time assistance of up to $1500 to help pay the rent and utilities of low-income (60% AMI or less) residents who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot afford to pay their rent, utilities or both. The program, which opens for applications on May 4 at 12:00 pm for 5 days, will issue payments directly to landlords and utility companies which must be willing to participate in this program. Landlords must be able to provide the City with completed W-9s and ACH/Direct Deposit forms. Click here for more details.
FPL is suspending electrical disconnections, providing payment extensions and waiving certain late fees for customers so long as the State of Florida is under a state of emergency. FPL customers experiencing hardship because of COVID-19 are encouraged to call customer service.
The United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, in partnership with the Health Foundation of South Florida, The Miami Foundation and Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau have launched the Miami Pandemic Assistance Program. The program, for working families in Miami-Dade County, is providing emergency assistance, including rent/mortgage assistance, food, and medication, through a network of agencies in the community. To request assistance, apply here.
Those working in the restaurant, bar and hospitality sectors can find at least 10 funding sources offering financial assistance to those who have been laid off or otherwise suffering. Check the list for specific grant application information, including the RWRF fund as well as the following:
- Restaurant Strong Fund - For full-time employees working in a bar, nightclub and/or restaurant for 30 hours or more for at least 3 months (can be multiple restaurants). Apply here.
- Bar Workers Emergency Relief Fund
To apply for this grant, go here.
This article was last updated on July 2, 2020.