CARES Stimulus Act 2020

CARES Stimulus Act 2020: information for individuals, small businesses, and independent contractors.

“Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act”

I have assimilated information on the CARES Stimulus Act 2020 that could be of help to you. If you are a small business or independent contractor, please read!

DISCLAIMER: I do not purport to be an authority on any information below. You are advised to check with an attorney, accountant, etc. and to for yourself the accuracy and benefit of suggestions offered here.

Mortgage Forbearance

This is for government backed mortgages (Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, FHA, VA, USDA):

  • Government-backed mortgage forbearance
  • Up to 360-day payment forbearance
  • No proof of hardship
  • No additional fees
  • No interest or penalties assessed
  • Exception is for vacant or abandoned properties

Note that the missed payments are not forgiven. The loan servicer must continue to make the payments the mortgagee misses. Each lender will decide how you repay missed payments.  My bank offered me three months of deferred payments. But all the deferred payments are due at the end of the three months! They might “work with me then” on a plan for making the missed payments.  Word is that they may be willing to tack the missed payments onto the end of the mortgage. Try to negotiate!

If your loan is with a credit union or is held in-house at your bank, call directly to see what they will offer you.  They do not fall under the Mortgage Forbearance in the stimulus plan.

Small Business and Independent Contractors

  • C-corps
  • S-Corps
  • LLCs
  • Independent contractors

There are a few interesting opportunities for you!

  1. The SBA (Small Business Association) $10,000 grant. As I understand it, this is a “forgivable” loan. Application is an easy process on – be sure to click on the YELLOW bar at the top of the website to apply. However, it must be documented to be used for salary or cost of running your business. You have until December 31, 2020 to use the funds accordingly.
  2. After you are approved for the 10K grant, you will receive an offer of a SBA business loan with deferred payments and a reasonable interest rate.
  3. The Payroll Protection Plan (PPP). This is a potentially forgivable loan intended to help employers keep employees working.
  • PPP can be used only for payroll and possibly rent and utilities.
  • It covers the cost of 8 weeks of payroll and must be used and documented by June 30th.
  • All or a portion of the loan is forgiven if payroll levels are maintained.
  • The PPP is administered by local banks. You can find a list of participating institutions here. This list may not be complete, so call your bank to inquire.
  • Many banks have not finalized the loan, so it is not available yet.  Keep checking with your bank.

Note: you cannot “double dip” with the 10k grant and the PPP. You can potentially use the PPP loan and then use the SBA grant later.  You cannot use them simultaneously for the same payroll period.


  • You can make an early withdrawal of less than $100,000 with no penalty due this year.
  • There is not a penalty if you recontribute the funds within 3 years
  • The tax penalty will be pro-rated over 3 years to soften the blow, if you do not recontribute the funds,
  • You are not required to withdraw funds this year if you are over 70 1/2

In conclusion, there is some great aid out there under the CARES Stimulus Act 2020.  You should act quickly.

Let’s Help Each Other During Covid-19

Let’s Help Each Other During Covid-19

First and foremost, Jimmy and I hope that you and your family are safe and well.

Secondly, we send a heartfelt a HUGE thank-you to all you healthcare workers and those of you out there working in public to keep things running. We can’t say enough how much we appreciate you.

Jimmy and I find ourselves very suddenly, like so many others, with time on our hands. We are optimistic and embracing the down-time (as you know if you follow me on FaceBook, we have been walking and playing with pets a LOT).

Let’s Help Each Other During Covid-19. As you think of ways to support local small businesses, which we real estate agents are, here are a few things that would mean so much to us now and for helping create future business:

  • Leave a review! Even if you have done one in the past (much appreciated!), it can be done again on a different platform such as:


Google – if the link doesn’t work, just Google my name. The business panel will come up on the right side of the page and will allow you to leave a review.


Angie’s List


  • Tell Two Friends About Me. Remember that old shampoo commercial: “if you tell two friends, and they tell two friends . . .” You can help me generate business by telling your friends that I am the agent to call when they begin to think about buying or selling a house!
  • If you or someone you know needs to buy or sell now, contact me. It isn’t impossible, but it involves virtual showings and possibly a long due diligence period. I now provide 3-D or video walk-through tours with my listings so that a buyer can virtually walk-through your home. It might not be the ideal time, but we can make it work without endangering anyone’s safety. And if we can’t, I will tell you. We aren’t taking any chances.
  • This will pass, and I will need your referrals more than ever. I weathered the Great Recession, and I will weather this, too. None of us know what the future will look like, but I plan to still be a real estate agent for many years.
  • It is not too early to talk now about future plans. I even Zoom and Skype now! How can I support your business during this time?
  • Let’s Help Each Other During Covid-19. Let me know how I can promote your business, too.

Corona Housing Market is Not Like the Great Recession

A friend tagged me on FaceBook with this article from Keeping Current Matters called “5 Simple Graphs Proving This is Not Like the Last Time” and asked me to comment.  Below are my thoughts in reaction to the key points of the article as well as in general on how Corona Housing Market is Not Like the Great Recession .

  • I think they are right.  Except that homes are teetering on too expensive (point #4). We might get a little adjustment there. I expect the housing market to continue to stall for the duration of “stay at home” or whatever distancing order is in place or is common sense. We agents can do a lot virtually, but at some point, we must set foot in a house to do our duty to “discover and disclose” as well as to be able to offer sound advice to our clients. So it is impractical that much will happen in the next month (to six months – who knows?). I can’t imagine that many people are contemplating a move in the midst of this pandemic.
  • When things let up social distancing-wise, there will be a pent-up demand for housing. Assuming mortgage rates are still low and people haven’t ruined their credit and lost down-payments, buyers should re-enter the market pretty quickly. However, for potential buyers who were planning to cash out of retirement funds in order to buy, it will also depend upon the stock market recovery.
  • If a home is vacant, a seller may want to go ahead and get it on the market as soon as is feasible. If the home is occupied, I can’t recommend putting it out there for showings, even if your area isn’t on lockdown yet. Do you really want strangers in your home right now? A real estate agent acquaintance of mine in another state has Covid 19. He did everything right and followed all the suggestions for social distancing, cleanliness, etc. What if he had been in your house last week, even without a client? (note: he wouldn’t have been, because he was being prudent, but some agents are still out there trying to act “normal”).
  • Final thoughts are in regard to my fellow agents. Even though Corona Housing Market is Not Like the Great Recession , some of us will survive this and some won’t (gosh, financially, I mean!). That is heart-breaking. Unlike the Great Recession, which crept-up on us slowly and still allowed for sales throughout the recession, this market has screeched to a halt. Those who are living commission check to commission check will have a terrible time of it. Those who are overextended will see losses. Some will leave the business. If it goes on more than 6 months it will be devastating to our real estate professionals who have dedicated much time and expense to education, creating their own small business, and plying this trade. We are all small businesses (independent contractors) who are totally dependent on commission income and still have bills to pay even when sales aren’t being made.  So say a prayer for your favorite real estate agent, please!
  • And if you are contemplating buying or selling, now or later, get in touch with me.  It is never too early to come-up with a strategy, and I have time to talk with you! Visit my homepage, email, or call me: 828-216-2300!

Asheville Real Estate and Corona Virus

Asheville Real Estate and Corona Virus

As I write this on March 13th, there are no documented cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe or surrounding counties. But we all know that it is just a matter of days before that happens.

How does this change the real estate scene? 

My crystal ball isn’t working, but I can tell you what I think based on nearly 19 years in the business in Asheville – none of which saw a pandemic.

  1. People still need to sell and buy houses, and I and my fellow agents are here to facilitate the process
  2. It could be a good time to buy, since some potential buyer competition will decide to postpone travel to look.
  3. Interest rates remain low, making this a great time to buy.
  4. There is still a shortage of inventory, making this a great time to sell.
  5. We must show and inspect homes with caution and courtesy to all parties, especially the sellers.

How Will Showing Practices Change?

There have been no guidelines or mandates from our REALTOR® associations or office ownership on how to deal with Asheville real estate and Corona Virus. Here is what I have planned at this point.

For My Buyer Clients:

  1. When showing homes, I will ask my buyer clients to follow me or meet me at the property in their own vehicle. This is a tough one for me, because I have always felt that it is part of the service I offer to drive my clients. It is also a great time to get to know each other and to discuss the houses and process. But for everyone’s safety (my 89 year old mother lives with me), I think an abundance of caution is in order.
  2. When I open and close the door and lockbox to a house, I will wipe it before and after with disinfectant wipes.
  3. I will remind myself and my clients not to touch anything as we look through the house.
  4. I have a small stash of hand-sanitizer in my car which I will share as long as it lasts.

For My Seller Clients:

  1. I will confirm with my seller clients that they are comfortable with people coming into their home. There is no way to screen potential buyers as possible carriers of any illness. With vacant homes, of course, this won’t be a concern.
  2. As we are experiencing warmer weather, it might be helpful for sellers to air out their homes after showings. Even better if windows are open throughout the day.
  3. I will leave Clorox wipes (when they are again available) at the door of each of my occupied listings, and, if possible, hand sanitizer readily available (that horse may have already left the stable). Maybe in a week or two these products will be available again.
  4. I will quiz home inspectors and appraisers about their possible exposure and symptoms of illness before they visit the house.

I am certainly open to other suggestions for navigating this unprecedented situation.

While being as cautious as possible, I feel that life must go on.  People need to buy and sell homes, and we can still make this happen with as little risk as possible of spreading germs.

Tips for protecting yourself and others from the Corona Covid-19 Virus here.

Featured Hike: Appalachian Trail at Carver’s Gap

This is the summer of hiking for Jimmy and me for a couple of reasons. First, we have had our heads down and worked insanely for the last 4 years. We are reclaiming life-work balance after selling the office, and this glorious spring and summer have been perfect for hitting the trails. Second, we are going out to Yellowstone in the fall, and we want to be in better shape for daily hiking. We have a way to go. We can tackle a 4-5 mile hike, which is really about as long as I want to do. But then we are pretty wiped out for 24 hours, so the stamina needs some work (hey, we are 50+ and nearly 60, so do we get some slack?).

We are trying to hit some trails we have not done before, and we are trying to get up to higher elevations to prepare for Yellowstone. Asheville is about 2200 feet. We can easily find trails at 4000-6000 with a little driving involved.

Yesterday, July 4th, we really didn’t have a plan for where we were going. We headed up north and ended up at Roan Mountain on the NC/TN line. The Appalachian trail crosses there at Carver’s Gap, and many thru hikers consider that one of the most beautiful sections of the Trail (I read this), so we decided to check it out. And it was magnificent!

You start from the parking area through an enchanted forest. I expected to see tree nymphs and fairies amongst the ancient spruces and moss covered trees and rocks surrounded by ferns. It was a magical start, and then you emerge shortly on the first of several balds.

You can follow the trail as far as you like (to Maine if you are so inclined!), and there are some spur trails off of it. The clouds were below us and above us, and it was just a fantastic hike at about 72 degrees!

I have lived in these mountains all but 11 years of my 51 years, and I never tire of exploring them and hiking them!

Featured Hike: River Loop Trail (Upper), Black Mountain Campground

This hike is an easy one, and a moderate length at about 4 miles (with the side trail to the waterfall). The Black Mountain Campground is not in or near the town of Black Mountain, though as the crow flies it probably isn’t that far. You can access it in Pisgah National Forest off Hwy 80 either from Burnsville or from Marion. With an elevation of 3000 feet, it is a little cooler than Asheville but not so high that you feel the thin air.

The trail begins alongside the Green Knob and the Mountains to the Sea trail directly across from the entrance to the campground on the Forest Service road. You have a bit of an uphill climb until the other two trails branch off, and River Loop then follows the contour of the mountain until it descends back to the Forest Service road, crosses it, and then follows the Toe River along the other side back to the campground.

It is a delightful hike all the way. The first stretch is more of a hike, and on this July 1st, the rhododendrons were still in full glory, so it was magnificent. Once you cross over to the trail along the river, it is literally a walk through the woods. This is a great hike for families or anyone not feeling to ambitious as far as elevation changes. But it is long enough that you feel like you did something to earn a big burger for dinner.

Truths About Home Ownership

Owning a home is the American dream. And with mortgage interest rates still low and a good economy, it is a great time to make that dream come true, whether you are a first-time buyer or moving up to your dream home.

I am, clearly, a huge advocate of home ownership, but there are positives and negatives.

Even with a mortgage, which most of us must have in order to purchase a home, you are investing in something that will someday bring you some return. However, I think we fall into the trap of thinking our homes are money makers, and that is not the type of investment a home should usually be. A home should be an investment in that you are going to be able to re-coup what you have put into it at some point as opposed to rent, which never comes back to you. But it isn't a given that this will work out. As we learned in the Great Recession, home values can decline below what you paid for the house or have invested in it in principle. And if you have re-financed and cashed out your equity, well, guess what, you already got your pay-back.

But a few things recently also brought to my mind the tangible realities of owning a home. A client recently closed on an older home that was well-maintained. The client had had a home inspection, which can evaluate things as they are, but not what might happen tomorrow. And sure enough, the day after closing, the hot water heater went out. Then the dishwasher quit working. ARGH. What an unpleasant surprise to thave to pay for new appliances after just paying for the house with what you thought were working appliances! This client had waived getting a home warranty plan, which might or might not have covered these appliances (they have lots of small print, especially for older units). He took it in stride, saying that this is part of owning a house.

And he is right. When you are renting, if something quits working, you call the landlord. You don't have to pay for it. But when you own a home, it is surprising how many things can eat up that money you were saving for vacation. We bought our current home a little over a year ago. It was built in 2005, so that seems pretty new to me considering all the nearly 100 year old homes I have owned and the general age of homes in and around Asheville. But these days, 10-15 years is about what you can expect for appliances to last. So in the last year, we have replaced the water heater, dishwasher, oven/range, and had serious work done to the HVAC. We also had to replace undersized gutters, cut down some threatening trees, fix electrical issues, and there are still some less urgent things we need to address.

Some days, when I add all that up, I think, "maybe we should just rent!" But no, I am not cut-out to be a renter. I love the feel of ownership, even if it is a little delusional since the bank owns my house until I pay it off. But I can do what I want to my house. I can plant what I want in my yard (as long as the HOA doesn't complain). As I pay down my mortgage, my payments are far less than comparable rent would be, and I can take the interest off on my taxes. The value has gone up already in the year we have owned it, so at this point, it is a great investment.

But most importantly, I feel that it is my home, and that I can be emotionally attached to it and my little plot of land. It gives me a sense of stability that renting never could. My mom is still in the house that she and my dad bought in 1969. It is a part of our family, and through my many moves it made me feel like there was always a place that was home. I still love that home in which I grew-up, but now I have my own "forever" home and feeling of permanance. And that is priceless.

Is home ownership sometimes a burden? Sure. Is it worth it? You bet.

Asheville Real Estate Market Spring 2017

In short: high demand, low inventory, rising prices

When people meet me and learn that I am a real estate agent, the conversation quickly turns to "how is the market?" Most folks are aware that Asheville is a booming market with more and more people moving here daily to take advantage of our bounteous outdoors and four mild seasons. "Prices can't keep going up. It is a bubble!" they say.

Well, history and probablility prove them wrong on both counts. Every year that I have been in the real estate business (since 2001), with the exception of the awful Great Recession years, people have said the same thing. And we weren't in a "bubble" pre-recession. The market was strong and increasing at a rapid but reasonable pace. The issue then was financial, particularly irresponsible lending and sub-prime loan packaging.

I have been told, though have not done the research myself, that other than the Great Depression and the Great Recession, Asheville real estate prices have never dropped substantially. This has always been an area that attracts people, both as tourists and as new residents. Ever since the railroad came through in the late 1800s, making the area easily accessible, real estate has boomed.

The current market is a reflection of factors. First, the relocation to the Asheville area continues. Asheville and surrounds has made every list I can think of, and some I can't, and people just want to live here. Many of these people are retiring. We don't get as many relocations of working people because, well, we have no real industry and a dismal job market. These retirees have made their money in other more expensive areas of the country, so while our prices are undoubtably high, they don't look so bad to them. This continues to drive our prices upward, as it has since the Vanderbilts, Groves, and other Northerners arrived 100 years ago.

Second, there is an inventory shortage. People in the area aren't moving out of the region as they once did for jobs. Perhaps more people have figured out a way to make a living here (thank you internet!), so I don't see the exit of as many young adults as I once did. I used to say they were on a 5 year cycle of coming to Asheville, trying to hash out an existence, then giving up to go to Charlotte or Atlanta. This still happens, but more people are staying put. Additionally, people who live here are afraid to put their home on the market because they know it will sell quickly. Yes, that is terrific. But then they have to find a house to buy, and in this tight inventory market that is truly a challenge.

Third, and this relates to the inventory shortage, buildable land is hard to find. Developers want to find a large parcel of land close to town and on public water and sewer. It is pretty much all gone. Or, it seems too expensive to build a housing neighborhood unless it is apartment buildings, which are springing up like weeds. Our topography makes building expensive and challenging, and there are places that God just never meant for homes to be built (doesn't stop some builders). In-fill homes in town are HOT items, and builders are slicing off larger yards to fill in new houses where they can. But these are then priced at a premium, and there just aren't enough of them to ease the inventory shortage.

Lastly, it is my feeling that while we are not in a bubble as supply and demand will continue to raise prices, our prices are outpacing what many people can possibly afford to buy. Many of my clients are those young retiring baby boomers, and while they may be able to retire early, they usually have a budget between $300,000 and $500,000. Sadly, a modest, basic, often in need of rehab or remodeling, home in town begins at $300,000. So while I don't see a bubble per se, I wonder if things will slow – not decrease but slow in terms of price increases – in the next few years.

As always, barring a financial collapse, I don't see prices here going down. And many of my clients are buying now for future retirement to get in while they still can!

Mortgage Information for Asheville and Beyond

A big thank you to Linda Brandt at Atlantic Bay Mortgage for the list below of the four factors that go into loan approval:

1. Property purchase- Primary, secondary or investment. While there is no rate adjustment for secondary home, there is for an investment property and the rate will be a bit higher2. Credit Score- this is critical, as you know. Lenders take the mid-score of each borrower and then the lowest of each mid when determining interest rate
3. Loan To Value(LTV)- this is probably one of the most important. The more money down, the lower the LTV, the better the rate since the borrower has more invested in the property and therefore less risk of default
4. Debt to Income Ratio(DTI)- a low DTI means the person has a lower risk of defaulting on the loan since they are not maxing out their income to make the mortgage payment.

Linda Brandt
Mortgage Banker
NMLS #1012381, Licensed in NC

Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group

32 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC, 28803
Office: 828-263-6355 | Mobile: 828-776-5755 | Fax: 844-895-4654 |

Where You Live Matters, Even in Asheville

Jimmy and I lived in Asheville proper for nearly 20 years, in both North Asheville and West Asheville. We loved living in town and being able to walk to restaurants or downtown. All four of our “in town” houses gave us some ability to “walk-to” things, and we were happy as could be. When you work in real estate, temptations arise, and over the years, especially early on, we sometimes went on adventures in the country, fantasizing about having land, a mini-farm, a creek, and abundant privacy. Then we would drive back into town and breathe a sigh of relief – city living was for us.

But sometimes things change and that change brings you a new sensibility. This past winter, I decided that we needed to give-up our much loved smallish house on the most prime lot in the best located part of West Asheville (between “downtown” West Asheville/Haywood Rd and the River Arts District with a view of downtown Asheville – sweet!). We loved our neighborhood and our neighbors and thought we were perfectly content. But I needed, for peace of mind, a home into which my mom could move if she needed to make a change (from her big home of nearly 50 years) in a hurry.

We knew we wanted to stay close to town. It was January, and we needed to do this quickly before our busy season started in March. It didn’t take long to exhaust the options in town, especially in North or West Asheville where we wanted to be. One day, I told Jimmy that we were going to look at Biltmore Lake. We have always liked that neighborhood, which was begun about 2002, around Enka Lake, a small lake that fed water supply to the now gone Enka/BASF plant to the east of it.

But Biltmore Lake is “suburbs.” It is about 15-20 minutes outside of downtown Asheville, and Jimmy was highly resistant. “But they have trails,” I said. “And the lake” (small lake for paddle boating and swimming). I dragged him out, we drove by the four possibilities, and decided that one was appealing, if a bit large and over-budget for us. It was one of those moments that I love when they happen to my clients. We walked in with an open mind, and just kept nodding and getting more excited as we looked through the house. This was it! The house suited our needs, and we loved most things about the floor plan. But the setting is special, nestled in the trees (I thought I had to have bright sunshine, but there is still abundant natural light), with a creek in the front and stream in the back. Tranquility!

We moved in April, immediately both had the flu for 2 weeks, and then began to settle in to the house and our new neighborhood. While we do miss the vibe of being in town, we found that the peaceful natural setting, quiet, and privacy more than compensated for town. And the commute, which was a real adjustment when you are used to being 10 minutes from everything, turned out to be a great disconnect from the hectic day at work. It felt like coming home to a sanctuary apart from the hustle and bustle of Asheville proper.

And, we and the dog are in much better shape. While we enjoyed walking our in-town neighborhoods, it was hard to take the dog because she was so distracted by other animals in close proximity to the sidewalk. Now, we literally walk out of our backyard onto a trail that connects with about 6 miles of trail system just within Biltmore Lake. Some of the trails do run behind homes, so there are still encounters with other dogs, but somehow it goes better. Then we discovered that we could walk up the mountain behind the neighborhood onto another system of trails that ultimately connects into Bent Creek Experimental Forest. We walked so much more this summer and fall than ever before, which has been great for all of us ageing pups.

So all of this is to say that where you live really does affect the quality of your life. You would think I would have known that after 15 years selling real estate and having lived in something like 7 homes of my own since leaving apartment life. But it really became clear with this move. I think it took us a few homes to figure out what was really important to us. But it also may be a different season of life where we want to chill in the outdoors and go into town for the energy and fun rather than live in the energy and visit the outdoors for the chill.

As you begin to think about buying your next house, really take some time to note what matters most to you. Setting (location, location, location is not just about resale value) as well as the floor plan and features of the house can really impact your enjoyment of the property and quality of life.