More than 30 million people in the US have filed for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks.The mortgage industry, like many others, has not been immune to the impacts of this economic downturn. Assistance in the form of a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions to renters and borrowers, and mortgage forbearance to homeowners would help stabilize the market; yet those efforts may be a ways off. The House voted last Friday to pass phase 4 of the HEROES Act which would offer $175 billion in housing assistance to help renters and homeowners with rent, mortgage and utility payments.
The bill still has a long way to go before it can go into effect. Many more approvals have to be obtained before renters can breathe a sigh of relief. In the meantime, Texas’ evictions courts have reopened and are processing evictions. While there has been a large public outcry for the tenants, landlords have unfairly been made out to be the villains.
Real estate has always been a tool for building wealth in this country, but now more people have access. Access to wealth building tools is not the same as being wealthy. Many landlords are in fact first time investors who worked and saved to have a chance to leave something behind for their loved ones. The expectation that those individuals, who are also facing the trauma and negative economic impacts of COVID-19, to forego rent and the loss of that opportunity is unfair. Change is not the burden of those that are on the edge of struggle, it is on the system that pushes the pressure down.
What this means is that we all have a vested interest in the success of the mortgage industry. If you live next to a homeowner relying on their tenant’s payment to stay current on their mortgage, your property value is tied to their ability to receive support. Evictions and foreclosures on a large scale have unilateral negative impacts on value. Neighborhoods with large renter communities should be actively advocating for federal assistance rather than railing against landlords.
The most impactful immediate step you can take is reaching out to your state representatives and advocating for the HEROES Act, mortgage forbearance, and a moratorium on evictions until it’s passed. The next thing you should do is assess your property value. Know where you stand on your property taxes and file for all qualifying exemptions. We’re all in this together! Take care of yourselves and one another, it’s the neighborly thing to do AND it’s good for your bottom line.