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7 Tips for Buying a Home During the Pandemic

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May 20, 2020

The ever-changing new normal

The coronavirus, and our reaction to it, has certainly changed our lives, from the way we do mundane tasks such a going to the store, to new procedures for seeing a doctor. Some of these practices and restrictions are already loosening up, but some changes may be permanent.

Regardless, there’s a new normal today.

The real estate market has been impacted, but it’s bouncing back. Perhaps buoyed by optimism, pent-up demand, and/or incredibly low interest rates, buyers are back in the market. At the current rate of sales in the Tri-County (Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer) over 2400 buyers will have offers accepted by the end of May.

At the same time, we are still experiencing the low inventory numbers that have plagued the market for several years now.

There are just over 3400 homes for sale in the Tri-County area, compared to 4100 at the same time last year.

So, we’ve got eager buyers back in the market, but fewer homes to choose from.

If you are one, or are planning to be one of those successful buyers during this pandemic, I’m going to suggest that you try these 7 tips, so that you don’t waste time and you put yourself in the best position to win.

1) Keep your credit clean – Lender guidelines have been a little more lenient over the past couple of years, compared to how they were just after the mortgage crisis, but one thing they are very cautious of is bad credit.

Right now, creditors are offering deferments, ‘skip a payment’ programs, and forbearance agreements to help those who are struggling.

The problem is, it’s too easy a deal to get, and some may be taking advantage of it without really needing it.

As Jeff Sipes of Blue Water Credit said in our update from a couple of weeks ago, just because creditors are offering this doesn’t mean that there won’t be repercussions.

If you’ve lost your job, of course, you may have to take advantage of those deferment offers, but if you’ve lost your job, you probably won’t be buying a house anyway.

If you haven’t lost your job, and you plan on buying a home in the next year, do everything you possibly can to keep your credit clean. You don’t want to find out that lenders won’t trust you because of a missed payment, even if ‘they offered.’

2) Understand and heed precautions – Whether you believe the government and healthcare industry guidelines are necessary or not isn’t relevant. Sellers and agents must be cautious. We are not only concerned about you and I getting the virus, but are also concerned about liability should a buyer or seller contract it, and then blame their agent for not making them take those recommended and required precautions. Agents are now required to have buyers and sellers sign the new Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration, as well as taking such precautions as social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing. Please cooperate with these guidelines and precautions.

3) Get pre-approved – Seems like a no-brainer, but many people are asking to see homes and today, and every showing poses a potential risk. So, in addition to the noted precautions, agents must be selective and only show homes to pre-approved buyers. The days of wandering around random open houses and of seeing homes for fun are over for now.  

4) Get your own precaution kit – Get a cloth mask, some hand sanitizer, and gloves. Use them. Again, agents are instructed not to allow anyone into a home without a mask.

5) Do your research –  This involves everything from viewing the property online to doing community research. What’s important to you? Schools? Transportation? Quiet, interior street? Proximity to freeways? Shopping? Parks? All of this information can be found online. Learn what you can upfront so you don’t waste your time, and increase the risk to your health, by going to see properties that won’t work for you.   

6) Get real about your expectations – Folks this ain’t a buyer’s market.
I’ve spoken to several buyers and many agents who’ve worked with buyers who think this is the opportunity to get a bargain. While there are always deals to be had in any market, prices aren’t falling overall. Metrolist reports that 43% of currently pending sales, and 47% of sales closed this months had multiple offers. All of that can change, but it hasn’t yet.

In fact, instead of falling, prices have risen for the past 3 months, up 2% in April.

I’m not saying you have to pay more than the listed price. I’m saying that if you want the house, offer what it’s worth, based on comparable sales, and the and home’s condition.

Sellers aren’t panicking, and with rising prices, low-ballers are likely to be ignored. I have a client who absolutely loved a particular home. She wanted to offer $21,000 below asking price, not because she didn’t feel it was priced right, but because of her belief that with the pandemic, she could get a bargain. Her offer was rejected, and it sold for $6,000 over the listed price, after receiving 6 offers.

You may indeed find a bargain, but a new listing, priced right, usually won’t be one.

7) Don’t rush, but be ready. – I always give this advice, and it’s as relevant today as it was before the pandemic. Sellers aren’t panicking, and neither should you, but if you find the right house, and you’re ready to buy, don’t wait.

I had a client ask about a property he’d seen online. It was priced at $475k, and he said he wanted to ‘keep an eye on it’ and wait for it to drop. He was disappointed when it went pending a few days later. If it’s the right house, go for it. 

So, what do you think? Does this all make sense? Have anything to add, argue or question, drop me a line at 916 718 9577, or tune in to our weekly market update May 21 at 3pm via zoom at
https://financeofamerica.zoom.us/j/6173215868

Each week, Paula Harvey of Finance of America, along with occasional special guests provide updates and insights on the real estate and mortgage markets. We keep it short, informative and try to have a little fun, too.

I’ll post a link to the recording of it when finished.

In the meantime, happy house hunting, and hit me up if you need help or more information.

Steve Heard is a Realtor with EXP Realty, and owner of www.myfolsom.com. Contact Steve at 916 718 9577 – email steve@myfolsom.com

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Possible Raises Series B and Moves Fully Remote | State

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SEATLLE, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Possible raises $11 million in new equity funding to expand the team and to provide additional products for its customers. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Canvas Ventures, Unlock Venture Partners, Columbia Pacific Advisors, Union Bay Partners, Tom Williams, and FJ Labs. The company has also secured $80 million in new debt financing from Park Cities Advisors.

Furthermore, the company is now fully remote and recently onboarded software engineers from across the US and the globe. Possible is committed to distributed work and actively recruiting for a number of other remote roles.

Possible provides friendly access to capital and a simple way to build credit for people who otherwise would get a payday loan or get hit with a bank overdraft fee. The company uses real-time financial data, rather than a credit score, to qualify customers and provide funds instantly through its iTunes and Android apps. Unlike payday loans or overdraft fees, Possible loans are paid back in small installments over multiple pay periods to allow customers to catch their breath. By reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, Possible enables its customers to build credit history and eventually qualify for cheaper, longer term financial products. On average, customers with low credit scores see their scores increase by 70 points within 4 months.

Tony Huang, Possible’s CEO explains, “So many people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to build credit history. We’re helping them do it for the first time while providing them with a friendlier and more affordable small-dollar loan.”

Since launching in June 2018, Possible’s given out loans to hundreds of thousands of customers, helping meet short-term cash needs while building credit history or establishing credit for the first time. These customers, often with bad credit or no credit history, are underserved by traditional banks. Possible fills that gap and provides financial access to those who need it most while giving them the means to climb their way out.

Gillian Munson, Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains the thesis behind their new investment, “Through tech innovation, data-driven insights, and a focus on the customer, Possible is well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of both consumers and regulators alike, and building a trusted brand that endures.”

A 2019 Experian study shows 34.8% of consumers are subprime and can’t access money when they need it. They pay $106 billion in punitive fees each year to the existing financial system for short-term credit products. These consumers are trapped in predatory debt cycles of payday loans and overdraft fees without the means to rebuild their credit or improve their financial health. While there has been a number of new tech-enabled products in this space, most lead to similar debt cycles and don’t address the harder issue of improving long-term financial health. That’s where Possible comes in.

Since the company is now fully remote, Possible is actively hiring talent across the globe. Tyler, Possible’s CTO, explains, “Being fully distributed allows us to access the talent pool of the entire world. Our success so far is a reflection of the quality of our people, and we believe hiring globally will allow us to find exceptional people to join us in achieving our mission.”

About Possible

Possible is a fintech company based in Seattle, Washington. The company provides a friendlier and easier way for customers to access capital while also building credit history and improving long-term financial health.

About Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures is a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV manages over $1 billion in capital across seven funds and focuses investments in portfolio companies with the potential to transform important markets.

About Park Cities Advisors LLC

Park Cities Advisors LLC (“PCA”) is a privately held, SEC-registered alternative credit manager based in Dallas, Texas. PCA is focused on private lending across the specialty finance and FinTech sectors and provides debt capital to companies across a variety of industries through asset-based financing transactions.

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Possible Raises Series B and Moves Fully Remote | State News

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SEATLLE, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Possible raises $11 million in new equity funding to expand the team and to provide additional products for its customers. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Canvas Ventures, Unlock Venture Partners, Columbia Pacific Advisors, Union Bay Partners, Tom Williams, and FJ Labs. The company has also secured $80 million in new debt financing from Park Cities Advisors.

Furthermore, the company is now fully remote and recently onboarded software engineers from across the US and the globe. Possible is committed to distributed work and actively recruiting for a number of other remote roles.

Possible provides friendly access to capital and a simple way to build credit for people who otherwise would get a payday loan or get hit with a bank overdraft fee. The company uses real-time financial data, rather than a credit score, to qualify customers and provide funds instantly through its iTunes and Android apps. Unlike payday loans or overdraft fees, Possible loans are paid back in small installments over multiple pay periods to allow customers to catch their breath. By reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, Possible enables its customers to build credit history and eventually qualify for cheaper, longer term financial products. On average, customers with low credit scores see their scores increase by 70 points within 4 months.

Tony Huang, Possible’s CEO explains, “So many people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to build credit history. We’re helping them do it for the first time while providing them with a friendlier and more affordable small-dollar loan.”

Since launching in June 2018, Possible’s given out loans to hundreds of thousands of customers, helping meet short-term cash needs while building credit history or establishing credit for the first time. These customers, often with bad credit or no credit history, are underserved by traditional banks. Possible fills that gap and provides financial access to those who need it most while giving them the means to climb their way out.

Gillian Munson, Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains the thesis behind their new investment, “Through tech innovation, data-driven insights, and a focus on the customer, Possible is well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of both consumers and regulators alike, and building a trusted brand that endures.”

A 2019 Experian study shows 34.8% of consumers are subprime and can’t access money when they need it. They pay $106 billion in punitive fees each year to the existing financial system for short-term credit products. These consumers are trapped in predatory debt cycles of payday loans and overdraft fees without the means to rebuild their credit or improve their financial health. While there has been a number of new tech-enabled products in this space, most lead to similar debt cycles and don’t address the harder issue of improving long-term financial health. That’s where Possible comes in.

Since the company is now fully remote, Possible is actively hiring talent across the globe. Tyler, Possible’s CTO, explains, “Being fully distributed allows us to access the talent pool of the entire world. Our success so far is a reflection of the quality of our people, and we believe hiring globally will allow us to find exceptional people to join us in achieving our mission.”

About Possible

Possible is a fintech company based in Seattle, Washington. The company provides a friendlier and easier way for customers to access capital while also building credit history and improving long-term financial health.

About Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures is a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV manages over $1 billion in capital across seven funds and focuses investments in portfolio companies with the potential to transform important markets.

About Park Cities Advisors LLC

Park Cities Advisors LLC (“PCA”) is a privately held, SEC-registered alternative credit manager based in Dallas, Texas. PCA is focused on private lending across the specialty finance and FinTech sectors and provides debt capital to companies across a variety of industries through asset-based financing transactions.



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Business Loans – Make The Right Choice!

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Your business needs funding and there’s no denying that! ‘You need money to make money’ and this is most applicable in the business world! While it is fairly easy to start with an awesome idea, to make a business profitable, you need to invest a good chunk of capital.

Whether to buy equipment or hire the right minds, you need capital! And the best way to go about it is to search for the ‘right’ business loan solution. Finding the ‘right’ one amongst the plethora of available options is a tricky decision.

You’ll be under stress to match the repayment frequency. And thus, your business will suffer. Hence, finalizing the right business financing solution after analyzing your business structure, repayment terms, cash-flow, and urgency is the best practice.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of which business financing solution or small business loan will help your business better!

1. For Real Estate – SBA

SBA loan is one of the most popular loans for small business owners. This is pretty straightforward to understand but involves extensive paperwork. If you need a place to kickstart your business, this is most suited for you.

It is issued by a private lending party or a bank. But the interesting part is that this loan can be guaranteed up to 85% by the federal agency—Small Business Administration (SBA). Hence, lending institutions are free and content to give the loan.

The best things about this loan are the lowest down payments and low-interest rates. If you wish to pay in the very long term, you can do so. An SBA loan involves a lot of flexibility. The condition being you should have the right financial service provider to guide you.

2. For An Equipment Or Any One-Off Loan – Equipment Financing, Term Loan

Do you need a new computer, or a tablet for your employee, or maybe a vehicle for your business’ delivery needs? Equipment financing is best suited for such kinds of needs. You can also get up to 100% financing solutions.

But there is one drawback that you should be aware of. As long as the repayments are done on time, you’ll continue to have access to the equipment. But the moment you fail short of your commitment, the lending institution has completed control over ceasing it.

A business term loan is another solution for this kind of requirement. Term loans are based on the ‘term’ that can be anywhere from 1 to 5 years. So, the repayment has to be made in that time-frame. If you’re looking for business loans in Edgewater, NJ, this will be just about right for you!

3. Need To Balance Cash Flow – Business Line of Credit

Business Line of Credit is the best financing solution that can help you with balancing your cash flow or handling any emergencies.

You get access to a limited amount of funds for a set period of time that you need to pay with interest and as soon as you pay it back, your specific balance sheet is turned back to ‘0’. This indicates that you’re again eligible for using that fund.

You can do it repetitively. There is no drawback to this mechanism. So every time you have an emergency fund need, you can look towards the business line of credit.

The only shortcoming of this system is that the interest rate is high and may require collaterals for approval. However, it is one of the most appealing choices if you need capital and have a bad credit score!

4. Credit Card Based Businesses – Merchant Cash Advance

Do you own a business that involves payments via credit cards? If yes, then the merchant cash advance is the right solution for you.

A business like retail or food chain that makes use of credit card transactions the most, can utilize merchant cash advance to boost its business. The way this financing system works is, the lender will enquire about your daily credit card transactions to the terminal provider and get your exact details. Then, he will compare it with the asked amount. If both are in accordance, you’ll become eligible for the advance.

The repayment term is interesting for this financing solution. Instead of getting a fixed rate, the advance provider will give you the figure in percentage. So every day if you make $1000 and the decided percentage is 5, then $50 will be ‘withheld’.

A merchant cash advance acts more like an investment than a loan!

5. Have No Collateral – Invoice Financing, Equipment Financing

Not all businesses have the luxury of putting collateral on the line and getting access to the desired fund. If you fall into the same category, you do not need to worry! Invoice financing can help you out even in this crunch situation.

Your account receivables serve as collateral in this financing solution and can help you get a loan up to 85% of its worth.

The only downside is the interest rate that is marginally higher than the traditional solutions.

Bonus: For A Small Duration – Short Term Loan

What if you need a loan just for 18 months? You have some debt or need to manage the cash flow, but your requirement is small. Which loan is right for you?

Well, you can opt for a short term loan. This loan gives you instant access to a lump sum of money that should be paid within the next 18 months.

The best part about this loan is that bad credit doesn’t bother the process!

This can also support businesses that need temporary loans to manage or settle a few things. Businesses that do not need some loan that lasts for years!

But just like all other financing solutions, this loan as well comes with a few drawbacks.

The first one being the annual cost will be slightly towards the higher side and the second being that a few businesses may find it hard to cope-up with the weekly payments.

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