Sunday, March 29, 2020

Summit County’s adoptable pets for the week of March 29, 2020

Nutmeg | Michael Yeraout Photography

The following animals are available for adoption at the Summit County Animal Shelter. Call the shelter at 970-668-3230 with questions. The most recent list of animals available for adoption can be found via their website.

Cats

CATALONIA, 8 years, domestic shorthair mix, white and gray, spayed female
CLARA BOW, 7 months, domestic shorthair, brown tabby, spayed female 
JENNYANYDOTS, 12 weeks, domestic shorthair, black, spayed female

KRIS, 4 years, domestic longhair, black and white, spayed female 
MARIA, 7 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
MINERVA, 2 years, domestic shorthair, calico tabby, spayed female
NIJA, 4 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
NUTMEG, 4 years, domestic shorthair mix, tortoiseshell, spayed female
PENELOPE, 3 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
TINKERBELL, 7 years, domestic shorthair, gray and white tabby, spayed female 

Dogs

BELLA, 8 months, pit bull terrier, brown and white, spayed female
BENTLEY, no age, pit bull terrier and Weimaraner mix, silver, unaltered male
CHAPO, 1 year, bull terrier, black, neutered male
HAWAII, 3 years, Labrador retriever and pit bull terrier mix, black and brown, spayed female
LUNA, 8 years, German shepherd mix, black and brown, spayed female
RUDY, 3 years, Labrador retriever and Carolina dog mix, brown and black, neutered male
TARA, 4 years, pit bull terrier, chocolate and white, spayed female

Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19 economic crisis not yet reflected in Summit County real estate market



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Realtors are finding creative ways to show houses to clients and keep the real estate market afloat amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
While the local economy grinds to a halt amid the countywide shutdown, there is no significant drop in the real estate market — yet. According to real estate data from March 1-25, pending sales were more than five times higher and sales were down only slightly compared with the same dates in 2019. Through Wednesday, there were 75 pending properties in Summit County this month compared with 13 through the same date in March 2019. The number of sold properties this month is down five versus March 2019, a difference of about 6%.
Dana Cottrell, president of the Summit Association of Realtors, said local Realtors are still showing houses in person, though the showings are looking quite different than they did before the novel coronavirus appeared in Summit County. 
“My own personal experience is that showings have slowed down, but they’re still happening,” Cottrell said. 

When people go to see a home, Cottrell said they do not travel in the same car as their Realtor, and they carry sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with them. She said brokers are often going through the property prior to a home showing and fully disinfecting surfaces to make people feel more comfortable. If a buyer is viewing a home at this time, they are typically very serious about buying soon, she said. Cottrell also noted that an owner is more apt to allow interested buyers to view a home if it is not occupied full time — something that is true of many homes on the market in Summit County. 
Cottrell explained that Realtors have various virtual methods to contact their clients, including 3-D “fly-through” tours of listed homes and communicative videos. She also said that some parts of buying a home that are typically done in person, such as notarization, are moving toward digital or low-contact methods.
“The more we can push to remote, the better chance we have,” Cottrell said. “I think as brokers, we are going to really show our value to find unique ways to keep the market moving forward.”
As for changes to prices, Cottrell said it is too soon to know whether the pandemic is affecting local home prices and that any potential drop in prices would depend on how long the outbreak and subsequent changes in the community last.  “It’s really pushing us as Realtors to reach out and be of benefit to our market in new ways,” Cottrell said.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fed Chairman contradicts Trump’s coronavirus timeline

Powell says COVID-19 will set the timeline for reopening the U.S. economy
 
 
In a rare television interview, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie the U.S. economy can’t reopen until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

“The virus is going to set the timeline,” a grim-looking Powell said on the NBC morning show on Thursday.

Powell’s comments contradict President Donald Trump’s calls for “packed churches” on Easter, just over two weeks away. Easter Sunday would be a “beautiful timeline” for reopening the economy, Trump said at a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday.
The Fed chairman had a different outlook.

“The sooner we get the spread of the virus under control, people will regain confidence,” Powell said in the interview. “When they become confident that is the case, they will very willingly open their businesses up, go back to work, the consumer will be spending. So I think the first order of business will be to get the spread of the virus under control and then resume economic activity.”

The head of the central bank rarely gives sit-down interviews. He typically only speaks to reporters during formal press conferences after the Fed’s meetings to answer questions on monetary policy. 

During the financial crisis, as the U.S. teetered on the brink of a depression, Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the Fed, never took part in a TV interview.

While Guthrie asked Powell the obligatory question about an economic recession, and Powell affirmed the U.S. likely is experiencing a GDP contraction, that wasn’t the news. There is no major U.S. economic forecaster who isn’t projecting a recession
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However, the chairman’s projected it likely would be short, and the rebound sharp. The Fed pledged on Monday it would buy unlimited bonds and take other measures to keep credit flowing.

“This is a unique situation,” said Powell. “This is not a typical downturn” because it’s not due to an underlying weakness in the economy or instability in the banking system, he said.

Republican and Democratic state governors have issued “stay at home” orders for more than half the U.S. population, restricting activity to necessary tasks such as shopping for food. The goal is to slow the spread of the coronavirus to avoid overwhelming hospitals.
States with stay-at-home orders include Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Utah. 

Other states, such as Texas and Pennsylvania, have issued restrictions in some counties.
Part of the reason people are being urged to stay at home is the breakdown in testing – in the absence of a quick way to know who is carrying COVID-19, people have to act as if anyone might be carrying the disease. 

Nations doing widespread testing, like Iceland, have found about half the people who test positive for the disease are showing no symptoms, yet are still contagious.

 In the U.S., testing for COVID-19 is still limited, and the disease is still on the upswing. Public health officials in many areas of the country have said in recent days that tests are restricted to health care workers and hospitalized patients because of a shortage of test kits, swabs to administer the tests, and protective equipment to keep safe the workers doing the testing. In most cases it takes days, and sometimes more than a week, to get results.


“We would tend to listen to the experts,” for setting a timetable to resume normal activity, Powell said in the NBC interview, citing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force
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Trump has nixed that type of sentiment, saying at a White House briefing on Tuesday that if public health experts had their way they would “shut down the entire world.” The president pointed out in a tweet on Tuesday that people are killed in car crashes, but the U.S. still allows driving.

“Look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about,” Trump said in the tweet. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody, ‘No more driving of cars.’ So we have to do things to get our country open.”

In fact, while the White House issued guidelines recommending social distancing for 15 days to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Trump didn’t shut down any states, and it would be difficult for him to force unwilling governors to rescind those orders.

Powell said in the Today interview it’s better to rely on the experts.

“We’re not experts in pandemics over here,” he said, referring to the Federal Reserve. “We don’t get to make that decision. I would say that we would tend to listen to the experts.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fed announces unlimited purchases of MBS and Treasuries, adds multifamily mortgages

“Quantitative easing” is aimed at greasing the wheels of the credit markets


The Federal Reserve announced on Monday that it will buy unlimited amounts of Treasuries and agency mortgages, including multifamily, to grease the wheels of the credit markets.

The purchases are attempts to avoid the type of credit crunch seen after the collapse of the financial system in 2008.

Monday’s announcement came eight days after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank would restart a quantitative easing, or QE, program created a decade ago. It was slated to be $700 billion in bond purchases, but within the first week, the market specialists who execute those purchases had burned through half of that.

The new move to make unlimited purchases is intended “to support the flow of credit to households and businesses by addressing strains in the markets for Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities,” the Fed said in a statement before stock markets opened on Monday. “The Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.”

The bond-buying is aimed at providing liquidity and pushing rates lower, which would bolster the economy. The first QE program, announced in December 2008, drove mortgage rates below 5% for the first time ever. This time, it could drive rates below 3%.

Market disruptions have caused some lenders to add a risk premium to mortgage pricing in recent weeks, causing interest rates to rise. 

When things settle down, rates could settle down as well, Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic‘s chief economist, told HousingWire last week.

“It may not be tomorrow or next week, but I think longer term as we look to the spring, yes, I think we could see rates moving down to new lows and possibly below 3%,” Nothaft said. “It’s certainly possible.”

Following this morning’s Fed announcement, the NY Fed issued a statement revising its mortgage-bond purchase schedule issued last week

The bond purchases probably will total at least $125 billion a day, it said. “The desk plans to conduct operations totaling approximately $75 billion of Treasury securities and approximately $50 billion of agency MBS each business day this week, subject to reasonable prices,” the New York Fed said. 

“The desk will begin agency CMBS purchases this week,” it said, referring to commercial mortgage-backed securities, without citing a target amount.

In the last week, the Fed has resurrected many of the measures it used during the 2008 financial crisis. It cut interest rates to near zero, re-launched QE bond-buying and opened emergency lending windows to support commercial paper issuers and money market funds.

It has also added new tactics – such as Monday’s announcement that it would buy agency-backed commercial mortgages, which typically are used to build apartment buildings.

The Fed also said it would set up programs to ensure credit flows to corporations and state and local governments. That includes buying municipal debt, which will provide cash to the communities who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Depression was about the Fed moving too slowly,” Neil Dutta, head of economics at Renaissance Macro Research, told Bloomberg News. “We are seeing a lot of things today. But, a slow-moving Fed hasn’t been one of them. That’s encouraging.”

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Summit County’s adoptable pets for the week of March 22, 2020

 
Morris | Michael Yearout Photography


The following animals are available for adoption at the Summit County Animal Shelter. Call the shelter at 970-668-3230 with questions. The most recent list of animals available for adoption can be found via their website.  
 

Cats

ASHTON, 10 months, domestic shorthair, black, neutered male
ASPARAGUS, 11 weeks, domestic shorthair, black and white, unaltered male 
CATALONIA, 8 years, domestic shorthair mix, white and gray, spayed female
CLARA BOW, 7 months, domestic shorthair, brown tabby, spayed female 
DECKER, 3 years, domestic shorthair, brown tabby, neutered male
JENNYANYDOTS, 11 weeks, domestic shorthair, black, unaltered female
JINGLES, 4 years, domestic shorthair, orange and white, neutered male
KRIS, 4 years, domestic longhair, black and white, spayed female
MARIA, 7 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
MINERVA, 2 years, domestic shorthair, calico tabby, spayed female
MORRIS, 6 years, domestic shorthair mix, apricot, neutered male
MR MISTOFFELEES, 11 weeks, domestic shorthair, black, unaltered male
MUNGOJERRIE, 11 weeks, domestic shorthair, calico, unaltered female
NIJA, 4 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
NUTMEG, 4 years, domestic shorthair mix, tortoiseshell, spayed female
PENELOPE, 3 years, domestic shorthair, gray tabby, spayed female
RUM TUM TUGGER, 11 weeks, domestic shorthair, black and white, unaltered male
TINKERBELL, 7 years, domestic shorthair, gray white tabby, spayed female
WINK, 2 years, domestic shorthair, tortoiseshell, unaltered female

Dogs

BELLA, 8 months, pit bull terrier, brown and white, spayed female
CHAPO, 1 year, bull terrier, black, neutered male
HAWAII, 3 years, Labrador retriever and pit bull terrier mix, black and brown, spayed female
LEVI, 4 years, pit bull terrier, blue and white, neutered male
LUNA, 8 years, German shepherd mix, black and brown, spayed female
PICARD, 1 year, pit bull terrier and beagle mix, black and white, neutered male
REMINGTON, 1 year, Parson (Jack) Russell terrier mix, white and black, neutered male
RILEY, 1 year, Siberian husky, black and white, neutered male
RUDY, 3 years, Labrador retriever and Carolina dog mix, brown and black, neutered male
TARA, 4 years, pit bull terrier, chocolate and white, spayed female
TURTLE, 1 year, black mouth vur mix, tan and black, neutered male

Guinea Pigs

GIZMO, no age, Guinea pig, brown and white, unknown gender
PIKACHU, no age, Guinea pig, calico, unknown gender

Friday, March 20, 2020

Strong February Sales Point to Market’s Sound Foundation

Existing-home sales performed strongly in February, with three out of the four major regions of the U.S. showing sales increases, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Friday. Home prices also were on the rise last month.
Total existing-home sales—accounting for single-family, townhouse, condo, and co-op transactions—increased 6.5% month over month, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million. Sales were up 7.2% year over year, NAR reports. “February’s sales of over 5 million homes were the strongest since February 2007,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “I would attribute that to incredibly low mortgage rates and a steady release of sizable pent-up housing demand that was built over recent years.”
Yun acknowledges COVID-19’s impact on the economy in March, but he notes that the impact of the virus on housing likely will be short-term given the strength of sales data prior to the outbreak. “Once the social-distancing and quarantine measures are relaxed, we should see this temporary pause evaporate and potential buyers return [to the market] with the same enthusiasm,” Yun says.
He also notes that housing shortages and low mortgage rates are two factors that could drive the housing market moving forward. Yun says he believes home prices will continue to stay elevated. “Unlike the stock market, home prices are not expected to drop because of the ongoing housing shortage.”
Real estate pros are adapting their businesses in light of restrictions on social gatherings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. “It is truly inspiring to see so many of our fellow REALTORS® and brokerages adjust on the fly,” says NAR President Vince Malta. “Agents nationwide are keeping consumer interest alive with innovative technologies, holding virtual open houses and computer-generated tours.”
Here’s a closer look at housing indicators for February from NAR’s latest report:
  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $270,100, up 8% from a year ago. Prices rose in every region of the U.S. in February. This marked the 96th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.
  • Inventory: Housing shortages continue to abound. Total housing inventory at the end of February totaled 1.47 million units, down from 9.8% a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • Days on the market: Forty-seven percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month. Properties stayed on the market for 36 days, down from 44 days a year prior.
  • First-time buyers: This cohort comprised 32% of sales in February.
  • Investors: Individual investors or second-home buyers accounted for 17% of sales in February, up slightly from 16% a year ago. Investors tend to make up the biggest bulk of all-cash sales, which made up 20% of transactions in February.

Regional Breakdown

Here’s how home sales fared across the country in February:
  • Midwest: Existing-home sales rose 0.8% to an annual rate of 1.29 million, up 4% from a year ago. Median home price: $203,700, up 7.9% from a year ago.
  • South: Existing-home sales climbed 7.2% to an annual rate of 2.52 million in February, up 8.2% from a year ago. Median home price: $238,000, an 8.2% increase from a year ago.
  • Northeast: Existing-home sales dropped 4.1% in February to an annual rate of 700,000, a 2.9% uptick from a year ago. Median home price: $295,400, up 8.2% from a year ago.
  • West: Existing-home sales jumped 18.9% to an annual rate of 1.26 million in February, an 11.5% increase from a year ago. Median home price: $410,100, up 8.1% from a year ago.