For landlords across NYC, this pandemic has created many uncertainties. Below is a list of things that every investor should know.
New York court officials have suspended eviction proceedings throughout the state amid the novel Coronavirus outbreak. Effective March 16 at 5 p.m., eviction proceedings and pending orders in housing court are suspended statewide until at least June 20.
Although evictions are suspended, you can still issue your tenants a rent demand if they fail to pay rent on time.
Proactively reach out to your tenants
If tenants have been laid off or furloughed, they may be eligible for NYS unemployment benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides payment to workers who were traditionally ineligible for unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed individuals, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others.
This, coupled with the federal relief program of cash payment, would increase tenants’ ability to continue to pay their expenses. Educating your tenants on these programs can both improve their cash flow and help you avoid missed rental payments. Many aspects of these programs are new and tenants may not be aware that they are eligible.
Not sure what to write to your tenants? Here is a sample letter I created.
Mortgage forbearance and foreclosure relief
If you have a loan on your property, mortgage forbearance and foreclosure relief may be available at three levels: Federal, State, and banks. Eligibility for forbearance varies depending on the type of mortgage you have.
Federally backed mortgages
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan banks, is providing payment forbearance to borrowers impacted by the Coronavirus for up to 12 months due to hardship. Please note that this only applies to federally backed mortgage loans and does not include jumbo loans. Under this program:
- You won’t incur late fees
- You won’t have delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus
- Foreclosure and other legal proceedings will be suspended
Multi-family owners may be eligible for forbearance if they agree to suspend evictions. Contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly statement.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on March 19 that residential mortgage payments will be suspended for 90 days based on financial hardship for borrowers due to the effects of the Coronavirus. This regulation does not apply to commercial mortgages. You must live in New York and the property must be located in NY to be eligible.
The directive includes:
- Waiving mortgage payments based on financial hardship
- No negative reporting to credit bureaus
- Grace period for loan modification
- No late payment fees or online payment fees
- Postponing or suspending foreclosures
Individual bank policies
Each bank has individual policies. Here is a list of a few major banks and the policies that they have announced.
Be prepared to repay what you owe after forbearance
It’s important to note that mortgage forbearance is not mortgage forgiveness, meaning you still have to pay back what you owe. You will need to repay the amount that was reduced or suspended, either as a lump sum or by adding to your normal monthly payment depending on your bank’s policy.
It is predicted that the NYC real estate market will behave in a similar fashion as it did after the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. There will be several months’ lack of activity and an initial hit to prices of anywhere between 10% to 20%. Over the course of time, prices will return to where they were in February of this year.
The Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates by 1.5 percentage points in less than two weeks and mortgage rates are at the lowest they have been in approximately eight years–good news for investors looking to finance as it gives you more buying power.
This, coupled with the fact that amid uncertainties, sellers might be more motivated to sell, means this crisis may be a window of opportunity to purchase properties at a discount.
As people are staying at home, online viewership of real estate listings has grown exponentially. While the number of lease signings has decreased, people who absolutely need to move are renting apartments without an in person viewing. Talk to your broker and encourage them to conduct virtual tours of your properties.
Matterport, for example, is a 3D modelling platform that specializes in real estate space virtualization. Advertised to successfully increase listing engagement, rental occupancy rate, and call volume, Matterport is a good option for recreating your properties in the digital space.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
This post was prepared with the help of Nathan Xiang, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Real 212.
*The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or investment advice. Please check with your attorney and banks to confirm which policies may or may not apply to you.