Layoffs fell to 1.2 million last week. This is a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week’s revised level while hiring is picking up. That’s the lowest level of layoffs since the pandemic started. Cumulatively, from the start of the lockdown in mid-March to the latest week, there have been 55.3 million Americans who have been laid off. However, there were far fewer, 16 million, continuing to receive unemployment checks in the latest week, implying that even with new layoffs there are job creations and people are coming off of unemployment.
The National Association of REALTORS® closely monitors the weekly claims for unemployment insurance provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since this data is also released for each state, we track the jobless claims activity at the state level. This state-level data report is a very important indicator to watch at economic turning points because it provides detail on what’s happening week by week, rather than each month or quarter.
Every single state except Rhode Island reported a decrease in new claims for the week ending August 1. That is a very promising indicator of the recovery of the job market. Florida, Virginia, and California were the states with the highest decline in new unemployment claims compared to the previous week. The number of new claims dropped by 17,507 in Florida; 16,976 in Virginia; 16,123 in California.
Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s new claims with the new claims of the previous week, New Jersey (-44%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Tennessee (-42%) and Virginia (-40%).
Moreover, the current release provides information about people filing for new and total Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Among 48 states, 13 million people received benefits in the week ending July 18 using the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Nearly 70,000 fewer people claimed to receive PUA benefits compared to a week earlier. Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had the most people receiving PUA benefits. Specifically, 22% of the labor force in Arizona received PUA benefits in the week ending July 18 followed by Michigan (20%) and Pennsylvania (19%).
The map below shows you the percentage change of layoffs for each state. Click on a state to see how many layoffs occurred every week within the last year.
Remotely staging properties is a growing trend in the pandemic. And the service may stick around even after the health crisis is over, considering the success some stagers are having.
Home stager Francesca Mahoney with Creekhill Designs LLC in Holly Springs, N.C., did a video staging consultation with sellers in April, and then the home went under contract in just 12 hours. The homeowner emailed pictures of the home to Mahoney, and they met over a FaceTime video call for two hours to stage the 3,000-square-foot property, inside and out.
In the family room, Mahoney honed in on the fireplace in the back corner. She had the sellers move the sofa and pare down the furniture and accessories, which drew eyes to the fireplace first. She also urged the sellers to remove distracting decorative items and accessories, limiting kitchen countertops to only three items.
On curb appeal, she guided them in showcasing the front porch, such as with the addition of rocking chairs, hanging baskets of flowers, a fresh coat of paint on the front door, and a new doormat. “Today’s buyers are very discerning due to HGTV and Pinterest,” Mahoney says. “Getting compelling and beautiful listing photos is always critical, but even more so in our current reality.”
Mahoney plans to continue offering remote staging consultations even after the pandemic. “I have been pleasantly surprised at how effective they are,” Mahoney says.
Read more about remote staging in the latest issue of REALTOR® Magazine.
Rearranging, sanitizing, trying to stay healthy–and taking photos. These last few cooped-up weeks have been a time of interior introspection. And an opportunity to take part in some Instagram Show and Tell. For design voyeurs, there’s been a steady flow of inspiration to distract from the news and the fear. Here, a dozen inside looks from creatives sheltering at home.
Follow us on Instagram @remodelista and @gardenista.
We love visiting creatives at home. Here are three more favorites:
Did you quote and lock loans until 3 a.m., wake up at 7 a.m. to see rates dropped even more, and say: “Aww f**k.”
Then you’re definitely a loan officer in the heat of this 2020 refi boom. Up is down, locks don’t matter and you just might have the year of your life.
And I’m here to remind you – with some much needed comic relief – that refi booms always play out the same.
Rates keep falling over a few months, but not without gut-wrenching volatility that blows your client lock advice on the daily, wreaks total EPO havoc and makes you question if customer loyalty is even a thing anymore.
Let’s break each of these down, offer some tips and laughs to all you loan pros out there grinding and share your 12 best quotes of the week.
1. Customers Are Loyal To The Best Price
Stop searching your soul on the loyalty question. The answer is, no, customer loyalty isn’t a thing in a market like this.
Running scale production in San Francisco for 16 years, I formed a credo: customers are loyal as long as you have the best price.
I learned this in a market where loans are large, clients are sophisticated, and they will leave you for an eighth no matter how smart your advice is.
The same rules apply nationally in a refi frenzy.
And it’s gotten worse and more pervasive over time because it’s not just Thursday headlines about Freddie Mac’s week-old rates that screw up your quoting and advice. It’s all rates everywhere all the time.
“Hey, I saw DJ Khaled’s Instagram story saying rates dropped another quarter.”
Are you kidding me right now?
There are so many absurd rate sources to contend with and the social era just makes it worse.
So you must make your consults and quotes ultra-fast and politely present terms in a take-it-or-leave-it way.
Then if clients leave it and lock with a competitor, just make sure they share their locked rate.
Then you can snake it back when the market drops below your competitor’s renegotiation threshold.
Because that client will gladly show loyalty to your best price later.
2. Don’t Waste Time Explaining Rate Rolldowns
Which brings us to renegotiating locks.
I did a piece called What If Rates Drop After I Lock My Loan this week to save you time fielding the same old questions on coronavirus market outlook, renegotiation basics, and using no-cost deals to create future refi optionality if the market drops more.
Don’t get brain damage explaining rolldowns to clients who think they know the business and want every detail.
Waste of time.
If they don’t like the outcome after you teach them how your firm calculates rolldowns, they’re going to leave you anyway.
This is especially true if you got an appraisal waiver on AUS findings because they have no appraisal fee skin in the game.
Even if they do, spreads on aging locks vs. market rates are so big right now, leaving you to take a market rate instead of your rolldown still pencils even if a client has to eat an appraisal fee.
The good news is that this works both ways. For every customer that bails on your locked rate, there’s one you’ll gain who’s leaving another lender for the same reason.
I’m not cheering ruthlessness, I’m merely stating the reality of working in a market where customers are loyal to the lowest price.
Of course, do everything possible with your lock desk to retain locked clients.
But speed matters, so how much time do you spend time retaining likely defectors vs. winning new clients at the current market?
3. Pricing Conspiracies & Telling Clients What You Make
I sometimes joke that crowd control pricing is in effect when quotes look dull relative to the market.
Lenders do indeed use pricing to control capacity. They must be able to perform on refi lock periods and must save capacity for purchases as we head into peak homebuying season with record-low rates.
But don’t construe a joke into pricing conspiracy. Capital markets teams must keep pricing in line with Fair Lending requirements, and they’re the lifeblood and real profit centers of every lender. They understand competitive demands and are there to help you.
So treat your lock desk like your best friend.
They’ll help you retain those squirrely locked customers, and help you quote recently closed customers without getting smacked by early payoff penalties (EPOs).
Oh, you forgot about EPOs?!
Reminder to all you (mostly nonbank) loan officers subject to EPOs: if recently closed clients refi elsewhere, you’re still on the hook for the clawback.
I know it’s raining new inquiries, but you must find time to re-quote recently closed deals to avoid the EPO storm later.
And please don’t tell your customers your sob story about how you get hit if they refi elsewhere. They don’t care, and it makes you look selfish.
Bonus Section: Refi Boom Quotes Of The Week
That last note on the complexity of refi booms brings us back to our opening line: “Aww f**k”
But hang tough and dance while the refis are raining. You will indeed have the year of your life.
I’ve been talking to lots of you this week, so I’ll send you off with your best quotes for inspiration, humor and to know you’re not alone:
“I’ve worked 100 hours in the last five days. Work ’til 3 a.m., up at 7 a.m.”
“We’re refinancing loans that went on last month. It’s f**king bananas.”
“Priced out on refis, about to unleash holy hell. But crushing on purchase so that’s cool.”
“I have at least 100 inquiries over the last four days.”
“I’m playing no offense right now. All defense.”
“LOs are furious, about to be a pricing mutiny.”
“I’m not worth an eighth to any client anymore, it doesn’t matter.”
“I’m either going to fall asleep or drop dead.”
“Do you want the price on the website or the one I can get on exception, which is 50 basis points lower?”
“My head is f**king spinning. This is f**king insane.”
“People who locked three days ago are asking for rolldowns.”
“Every customer is suddenly a market oracle telling you how it is.”
Based in Dorset, England, Farrow & Ball is a manufacturer and distributor of richly pigmented, water-based paint and wallpaper, so it makes sense that their Instagram accounts offers daily eye candy in the form of colorful room settings. This is a great account to follow for inspiration to go bold with wall color or dive into the wonderful world of wallpaper.
Sweeten is a free service that matches people with renovation projects to the best general contractors in their area, and their Instagram is filled with inspired ways to layer color and pattern into your projects.
Kelly Wearstler is an American designer and author with an impressive portfolio of projects, awards, and publications. Her account offers an expertly curated exploration of materiality, color, and forms, so following her is both an opportunity to peep gorgeous interiors and also gain insights into her methods and concepts.
Founder of @theJungalow and @justinablakeneyhome, Justina Blakeney’s Instagram offers pure happy-making, utterly delicious daily doses of color. From colorful decor pops to brightly hued interiors, this is a space dedicated to celebrating all things colorful.
Maison Sarah Lavoine
If you get a chance to visit designer Sarah Lavoine’s brick-and-mortar shops in France and New York City, you’ll be glad you did. But in the mean time, follow @maisonsarahlavoine for an inspired mix of contemporary style and vivid hues.
For the past 20 years, India Mahdavi has been a leader in the design world with her unapologetic use of color and bold, sophisticated sensibility. Follow her account to see all the exciting possibilities of layering in color.
Sheila Bridges (@harmlemtoilegirl)
As an A-list designer and owner of Sheila Bridges Design, Sheila Bridges has mastered the art and science of balancing bright, modern hues with classic forms. Follow @harmlemtoilegirl for ideas and inspiration to get out of the comfort zone of neutrals.
Nicole Cohen (@sketchfortytwo)
Nicole Cohen’s skills as both a designer and photographer come through in spades in her Instagram feed, which will have you thinking about color in entirely new ways. Rich hues, modern angles, and unfussy styling show how color can live very happily in a more minimalist context.
Grant K. Gibson
For interior inspiration that fuses eclectic with easy elegance, give a follow to San Francisco-based designer Grant K. Gibson. Gibson has gained a stellar reputation for using color and pattern to create beautiful yet personal interiors.
Summer Thornton Design
Chicago-based designer, Summer Thornton, is renowned for her fearless approach to color and pattern. Follow her Instagram for beautiful ways to mix unexpected hues. Some of her coolest tips: “Colors don’t clash” and “Never say never.”
Sight Unseen is an online magazine that covers the latest in art and design. This is a fantastic Instagram account to follow to stay current on the latest colors and patterns designers are loving right now.
Graham & Brown
For anyone who is considering wallpaper, give Graham & Brown—luminaries in the wallpaper industry—a follow on Instagram. The company has also ventured into paints and patterned textiles, so their feed is a lovely mix of luscious wall coverings vibrant interiors.
Cooler weather is coming — prep your home for its arrival while it’s still nice outside.
The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks, and leaves are falling from the trees.
Yep, it’s official: Fall is here. Now’s the time to finish up any pre-winter maintenance projects and get your home and yard ready.
Take care of these 12 tasks to get your home clean, warm and cozy for the cool days to come.
1. Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt
Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.
2. Clean out the gutters
No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on.
While you’re up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.
3. Turn off outdoor plumbing
Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.
4. Start composting
If you don’t already have compost bins, now’s the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!
5. Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools
It may not yet be time to put them away, but go ahead and clean your outdoor furniture and gardening tools so they’re ready for storage over the winter.
6. Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers
Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.
7. Prepare your furnace for winter duty
If you didn’t already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At a minimum, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before you start using it on a daily basis.
8. Clean the fireplace and chimney
Clean out the fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure the doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now’s also the time to stock up on firewood!
9. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside
Inspect your windows and doors. Check weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn’t doing its job.
Also, now’s the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings, if needed.
10. Light the way
Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.
Add lighting to darker spaces with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
11. Create a mudroom
Even if you don’t have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now’s a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a “mudroom” area for cold and wet weather.
Put down an indoor-outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack or storage bench for your entryway.
12. Home safety check
Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for daylight saving time.
Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so you’re ready for any winter power outages.
Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.
One the eve of Valentine’s Day, we asked our experts from the Remodelista Architect and Designer Directory for their go-to “millennial pink” paints. Their picks range from sweet and subtle to downright seductive, and neutral enough to look at year-round. Here are their favorites.
Photography by Mel Walbridge.
(N.B.: Featured photograph, above, by Justine Hand for Remodelista, from Cape Cod Summer Bedrooms Refreshed with Farrow & Ball Paint.)
Not pictured: Marie Fisher Interior Design uses Rose Pále from Les Couleurs’ Le Corbusier collection of pigments.
For more on our top paint picks, head to our Palette & Paints tag page. And for more pink palettes, see:
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There’s a lot of things that drive real estate agents nuts, but twelve things rose to the top when we recently asked The Lighter Side Of Real Estate audience what they’d like to see other agents NOT do.
While these aren’t results from a scientific survey, we went through over 1,000 comments and think this paints a pretty clear picture of what agents would like to see change in the industry.
So, how many of these are things you hate and would like to see change?!
1. It’s like the kiss of death…
2. People should be able to recognize you when they meet you in person!
3. You better not complain about Zestimates if YOU aren’t accurate.
4. It’s a waste of EVERYONE’S time.
5. Your clients…your responsibility.
6. It’d be even MORE impressive if they told you how many days instead of years…
7. Making others look bad doesn’t make you look that great either.
8. Yes, we’re all busy… But could ya please just let the listing agent know how the showing went?
9. Before GPS, did agents just put in “use a map”? Ummmm, no.
10. As they say, pictures speak a thousand words…
11. Be careful about how the throne is shown!
12. The phone was one of the greatest inventions…use it!!!