Friday, March 27, 2020

SCAM ALERT! Beware of fee-based services claiming to be able to lower your property taxes...

Be on the lookout for scams.  As a part of the leadership of the Sacramento Association of Realtors (I am the current Secretary/Treasurer of the Board of Directors), often other association members will come to me with questions or to alert me to things that don't look quite right.

BIG shout out to loan officer Scott Short with Mason McDuffie Mortgage who forwarded me a solicitation he received from a service claiming to be able to reduce homeowner's property tax.

The solicitation claims that, with the market potentially softening, it is time to submit an application to the County Tax Assessor for a reduction of your home's property tax assessment.

Please be aware that this is extremely misleading, and probably a predatory solicitation for a fee-based service that will be a fruitless attempt at property tax reduction.

For one, property tax assessment for the current tax year, which is the state’s fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2019 June 30, 2020 is based on the value of the property as of January 1, 2019. There will be no justifiable reason to expect that an appeal can be filed based on any current market activity for the value as of January 1, 2019.

Additionally, the values for the upcoming fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2020 and runs until June 30, 2021 will be based on the property value as of January 1, 2020. Any current market value volatility that we may – or may not – experience as a result of our current public health situation will again provide little, if even any, basis to justify an application for a Proposition 8 decline in property tax assessment.

It should also be noted that even if a homeowner files a legitimate property tax appeal, the timeframe in which to file an application does not even start for more than three months from today. The period opens on July 2 and runs to November 30.

A homeowner can request that the county assessor complete an informal review of the tax assessment FOR FREE. There is a non-refundable $30 fee to the Sacramento County Assessor to formally file an assessment appeal. And you do not need to hire a third party to do this.

I need to point out that if there is a decline in property value in Sacramento, it will take at least a few months of data to be able to determine what the impact will be to real estate values this COVID19 public health situation. As of right now, while we are seeing homes withdrawn from the market and certainly a likelihood of shrinking inventory, MANY agents are getting creative while limiting face-to-face contact and MANY homes are still going into contract with multiple offers. It is really too premature to say what the market will look like when the public health directives are lifted.

Please be on the lookout for these types of opportunists looking to take advantage of homeowners. We are definitely in a time of economic uncertainty, and like we witnessed during the last recession, scammers will prey on the most vulnerable people who are desperately seeking financial relief.

Here is a Q&A on the Sacramento County Assessor's website about Proposition 8 Decline in Value adjustment and assessment appeals. The assessor's office also has a an overview on how to reduce property taxes in other circumstances as well, and that link is here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID19 Temporary Mortgage Payment Relief Toolkit

As you may have heard, the federal government has directed Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD to provide borrowers experiencing a COVID19-related financial hardship with temporary mortgage payment relief. This is indeed true, however in order to take advantage of any suspension of mortgage payments, homeowners must apply directly with their loan servicers (aka, the mortgage company).

Since we in Sacramento County have been directed to "stay at home" I have had a little extra time on my hands as I avoid meeting with people face-to-face. I wanted to put  that extra time to a productive use.

I have created a detailed DIY Mortgage Relief Toolkit to help my clients through the process of asking for a forbearance or suspension of payments. If you would like a copy for yourself or for anyone you think may need it, please shoot me a quick email to erin@erinstumpf.com or text me your email address at 916-342-1372. I will forward you a copy. It's FREE. And it is my hope this toolkit will aid those seeking mortgage payment relief as we all go through this crazy time together.

Here are some links to federal government directives:

Fannie Mae Assistance Options for Homeowners Impacted by COVID-19

Freddie Mac: COVID-19 Response

HUD/FHA: COVID-19 Q&A

VA: Special Relief for those Potentially Impacted by COVID-19 

USDA: Foreclosure and Eviction Relief in Connection with Presidentially Declared COVID-19 National Emergency

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Protecting your credit during the coronavirus pandemic

Find a HUD-approved housing counselor:

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Adapting my real estate work and "social distancing" with my clients...

I am easily adapting to transacting real estate amid COVID-19 thus far. While docusign makes signing most paperwork convenient, sometimes it is difficult for some clients to complete everything virtually. My elderly seller doesn’t have easy access to a computer and printer, and we’re reluctant to make direct contact. So today I left documents she needs to fill out and sign in her front patio flower pot, as she instructed, and we’ll review them together on the phone later. Then once she completes them, I will pick them up to scan. So far, so good.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sacramento City Council approves a temporary moratorium on tenant evictions relating to hardships caused by COVID-19

Our local elected leaders, responding to calls from tenant advocates to provide relief to renters experiencing hardship related to our current public health situation, enacted an ordinance aimed at preventing renter displacement.

Last night, the Sacramento City Council approved a temporary moratorium on tenant evictions relating specifically to COVID-19. Keep in mind, this applies to all residential rental units within the city limits of the City of Sacramento.

Details of the new ordinance:

  • Effective Immediately, but not retroactively applied if tenant was already delinquent in rent
  • Moratorium applies to evictions due to nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19
    • Tenant was sick or caring for COVID-19 family member 
    • Tenant experience layoff or other income reduction associated with COVID-19 
    • Tenant’s compliance with a recommendation from a government agency to stay home, self-quarantine, or avoid congregating 
    • Tenant needed to miss work to care for a home-bound school-aged child 
  • Tenant must do all of the following: 
    • Notify landlord in writing before rent is due that the tenant has a valid reason for delayed payment 
    • Provide verifiable documentation of a covered reason 
    • Pay the portion of rent the tenant is able to pay 
  • Tenant has 120 days after the termination of the Sacramento County public health emergency order to pay landlord all unpaid rent. 
    • Landlord and Tenant may voluntarily agree to an alternate timeline for payment of rent due in arrears. 
The County of Sacramento has not taken similar action as of now, nor have the other cities within Sacramento County.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus and Sacramento real estate...

I was interviewed by Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee a couple weeks ago about how Coronavirus was affecting the Sacramento real estate market at that time, and when the story ran in the March 7th edition of the Bee, my answer was that the real estate market was super active. I had written offers for clients, among MANY multiple offers, and at that time there was no lack of enthusiasm for real estate.

On this last Friday, I closed two transactions, and my buyers were absolutely thrilled. Instead of sharing hugs, we shared congratulatory elbow bumps instead.

Today is Saint Patrick's Day. 10 days since that article ran, and just a weekend after handing keys to excited new homeowners. I feel like a lot has happened in that time. 

But I am happy to report that I can still do my job. And so can the other professionals connected to real estate transactions in Sacramento. Realtors can still show property. Lenders can still underwrite mortgages. Appraisers can still visit properties to value them. Insurance agents can issue homeowners insurance policies. Inspectors can still inspect properties. Contractors can still make repairs. Escrow officers can still notarize loan documents. And the Sacramento County Recorders Office is still open for business to record new deeds for property change of ownership transfer.

Other parts of our state are not so fortunate. For example, some California county recorder offices have closed to the public or reduced public operating hours, which may have an impact transaction closings.

But right now in Sacramento and our surrounding counties, we can transact. I had multiple offers on my new Carmichael listing this weekend. And I wrote an offer for a buyer that was one of many on a property in Folsom. People still need to buy and sell, people still want to buy and sell, and I don't think Coronavirus changes that, though it may put a new filter on things for a while. 

A week ago I had few if any concerns about being able to close a real estate transaction. And today, we are still open for business, though some contractual nuances may take extra time. Right now, all systems are go. But we have to be deliberate with what we are doing. I emailed my active buyers these thoughts just this morning:

"If there is a home you want to see, we need to be pretty deliberate about setting showing appointments, wiping doorknobs, keeping appropriate “social distance” etc. I’m mostly working from home at this point, and luckily things like Docusign can allow us to do paperwork and a lot of our functions virtually. As of now, lending, escrow/title, appraisal, inspection, and county recorder functions are all running, so while we may have to be deliberate and might move a little slower with scheduling certain things (some of them are working from home too), we can all still do our jobs at this point. And interest rates are insanely good right now, which is a bonus. If anything in that realm changes I can let you know. I’m optimistic we can all go back to business as usual in the coming weeks. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. And while buying a house may not be your top priority at the moment, if something pops up, I’m here and healthy."

I'm super thankful to be in good health, not part of any at-risk group, and pretty well-stocked up on Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. 

This too shall pass.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

New Listing - 5010 Raleigh Way, Carmichael, CA 95608

Adorable 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, approximately 1309sf Carmichael home is ready for a new owner! This project house is the perfect blank canvas that awaits your personal touches. You will love the open layout, large living room with cozy fireplace, formal dining room, remodeled kitchen with granite counters and stainless appliances. Remodeled bathroom with tiled tub/shower surround. 2-car attached garage. Yard offers lots of sunny space to garden or play. Well-located on a non-through street and close in proximity to parks, schools, shopping and more. Don't wait! Offered at $325,000. MLS# 20013901. For more photos and information please visit 5010 Raleigh Way, Carmichael, CA 95608.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

New Listing - 7769 Live Oak Way, Citrus Heights, CA 95621

Stunning newer 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2458sf Citrus Heights home with unmatched style and amazing features! You will love the light and bright spacious, open layout with a downstairs bedroom and full bathroom. Sizable living room is pre-wired for speakers, and looks into dining room and a fabulous kitchen with pantry, upgraded white cabinets, granite counters, full backsplash, center island with breakfast bar. Upstairs find a huge loft area, perfect for a home office or game room. Enviable master suite with large walk-in closet, dual sinks, separate tub and shower. Upgraded light fixtures/ceiling fans, upgraded flooring, and high end Hunter Douglas shades throughout! Backyard is an outdoor oasis with lots of sunny space to garden or play! Entertain guests under the lovely pergola and host your next BBQ at the built-in outdoor kitchen. Efficiency abounds with a tankless water heater, dual pane windows, and artificial turf. Close proximity to shopping, restaurants, parks, community center, and easy freeway access! Don't wait! Offered at $499,900. For more photos and information please visit 7769 Live Oak Way, Citrus Heights, CA 95621.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A unexpectedly amazing start to 2020 - honored by the Sacramento Association of Realtors as the "Realtor of the Year"

I was really excited for the 2020 Sacramento Association of Realtors Officers and Directors Installation event this year, because after serving 8 years on the Board of Directors, this year I stepped up to serve the association at a higher level as Secretary/Treasurer of the Board. What I was not expecting was to be the recipient of the 2019 "REALTOR of the Year" award.

This is the highest honor given by the association. An Awards Committee selects the recipient and the criteria is quite rigorous -- things like sustained participation as an association volunteer, effective leadership and an ability to generate participation by others in association activities, charitable and public service outside the association, etc. The association gives this to one person each year. As of December, the Sacramento Association of Realtors had over 7,500 members. And this year I was given the award.

I was shocked and humbled to say the very least. And so thankful that my brother and his soon-to-be wife were in attendance at the installation event.

It feels a little strange to get an award for efforts I find so personally gratifying in so many ways. I initially got involved with the association in 2008, a few years after getting my real estate license in 2005. Since then, I have done a long list of things such as serve on or chaired committees, forums, task forces, was President of the Masters Club, and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the community. I truly love our great organization and my fellow association members who all advocate for the same causes and volunteer to make our Sacramento community a better place. Walking into any committee meeting, event, or forum, I’m surrounded by friends and I’m forever grateful for that.

On a personal level, my 2019 was a pretty emotionally trying year with the loss of my mom to lung cancer in the spring. For 2020 I had been hoping to be able to have an emotional reset of sorts, and to kick things off in this way was an unexpectedly amazing start to the year.