Hello World. Good Monday morning to you. Since school seems like it’ll be canceled and the lockdown will continue for six months, we’re doing pajama Mondays in our house. Because, why not? Share what you’re doing to keep yourself sane. We’ll share some of them during our next newsletter.
In Case You Missed It.Man hosts a bonfire party with 60 people and gets arrested. Do you think maybe the giant fire was the giveaway? Megachurches are still packing in the vast crowds. Didn’t they get the memo? Trump reminds us that his TV ratings are bigger than The Bachelor.
Coronavirus Update: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 724,201 — Total deaths: 34,018 — Total recoveries: 152,052.
According to eery looking satellite footage, the US economy is at a standstill. Airplanes are parked on unused runways all over the nation. Resorts are ghost towns with barely a car in the parking lots. Ports have seen massive drops in shipping activity and it doesn’t stop there.
The satellite imagery comes from four sources: Maxar Technologies, Planet Labs, ICEYE and Orbital Insight. Investors would be wise to turn to industries outside of sectors like resort travel, shipping, and airlines.
Buyers Stay Home
The drop in U.S. consumer activity is captured in these images as more people to turn to online commerce, an industry already exploding.
Amazon announced this week a massive hiring spree. The online retailer is hiring 100,000 people due to the demand. Amazon also announced Covid-19 testing for all employees.
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News By The Numbers
15 to 45. President Trump is backing off his “open by Easter” 15 day plan and moved it to 45 days. Health experts warn we could see peak outbreak in 15 days.
12%. That’s the percentage of NYPD officers out sick. Over 700 officers have now tested positive for covid-19.
26 feet. That’s how far from sneezing people we need to stand to be safe. It’s called he 26 foot sneeze zone and it’s four times greater than the current 6ft covid-19 social distancing restriction, study warns.
Homebuilders have always been able to work from home – just not their own homes. Builders are still hard at work building American housing, despite the pandemic since all states except Pennsylvania and Washington have declared homebuilders as “essential workers,” allowing them to carry on.
Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Homebuilders, says that new safety standards for social distancing are not necessarily a challenge for home construction.
“Because of the nature of our business, it’s very easy to comply with the safety standards,” he said. “It’s easy to have fewer than ten people on a job site. It’s easy to keep those people who are onsite six-feet apart.”
Recall that before the pandemic, America had a housing shortage, and that continues to be the case. Howard asserts that homebuilders will be one of the few industries to keep the economy going as it teeters on the brink of recession.
FHA home loans are great if you can get one – but getting one is now the problem. It appears that many lenders have raised the bar on qualifying for these loans, given the instability of the government that backs them.
An FHA loan, or Federal Housing Administration loan, is a loan that is backed by the federal government. It allows people to buy homes who might not otherwise be able to with lower credit scores and lower down payments. But lenders do not seem to want buyers to go as low as they could previously go.
Current FHA requirements for these loans are a minimum credit score of 580 and a down payment of 3.5%. However, many lenders have raised that minimum to 660 to qualify, and some are charging up to 10% more in borrowing costs.
Why? Well, if you were a lender, wouldn’t you want to put extra protection in place when unemployment numbers hit record highs and the entire economy that we rely upon is frozen in place? These extra precautions will apply to all loans, but especially FHA loans are given that these borrowers are going to be the riskiest.
Also, the federal government just approved a $2 trillion stimulus package. If the very organization that backs your loans is doling out money to the entire country, how confident can you be that they will also make good on securing your loan when nothing is for sure anymore? This is all a matter of security or lack thereof.
It seems the lending industry did learn a lesson or two from the 2008 collapse, and even though it means instability, it could also mean a lack of stupidity. And that is one thing we can be grateful for if nothing else.
The housing market is on lockdown, but that’s not stopping people from selling their homes. Enter the smartphone.
Sellers around the world are turning to Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp to do live showings of their houses. The coronavirus lockdown has upended the usually expensive way sellers feature their homes. In the U.K, many agents use the pricey Rightmove platform, which costs realtors 1,000 pounds a year. Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp are free. It’s hard to compete with free.
The collapse in travel bookings has prompted people who usually rent their homes on Airbnb to advertise long term rentals instead. Potential tenants jump on a Zoom call with the homeowner for a quick walkthrough. The future is here, just a little earlier than we anticipated.
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