Crowding and the coronavirus: Why different parts of NYC have been hit harder

Urban density has been linked to the spread of COVID-19 in New York City. But it goes further than that, according to medical doctors and researchers. 

Some dense residential neighborhoods, such Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village in downtown Manhattan, had far lower rates of infection than others that are just as populated, according to city data.

StuyTown, as the locals call it, is the largest rental apartment complex in the U.S., housing  more than 27,000 New Yorkers in more than 11,200 units in 56 buildings in Manhattan’s East Village. It represents 1.7% of the borough’s population, according to owners Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge. Its residents also have a higher income than at some other dense housing developments, particularly those in upper Manhattan or the outer boroughs, according to U.S. Census information. 

There are a few factors that could have played in roles in helping to keep COVID-19 numbers down in StuyTown. During the coronavirus, some residents with resources may have left the city during the pandemic. In addition, the community spans 80 acres, giving people room to spread out, and there also may be fewer people living in each unit than there are in developments in other areas. 

“There’s a difference between population density and crowding,” said Dr. Uché Blackstock, an emergency medicine physician and the founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, which aims to eliminate racialized health disparities. “Crowding is defined as more than one person per room in an apartment or house….and if you have crowding, people are unable to socially distance, right? So if you have one infected person with a highly infectious and transmissible virus, it’s just a recipe for disaster.” 

New research is backing that up. 

A study published in June of almost 400 pregnant women in the city showed that lower neighborhood socioeconomic status and greater household crowding increase the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Researchers looked at the infection rates and neighborhood characteristics of 396 women who gave birth at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center or NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital from March 22 through April 21.

“What we found was that the more dense your personal environment is, so your household rather than the city, ​the greater the likelihood of COVID positivity,” said Dr. Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, a co-author of the study, and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “It wasn’t as simple as New York City is densely populated and that’s why we have COVID. It was much more granular and specific than that.”

By the numbers

City data has shown that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic residents in lower-income neighborhoods. Many live in crowded quarters that make social distancing all but impossible.

ZIP Code data provided by the city shows that in the area covered by 10009, which includes Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, there were 712 reported cases. Just over 11% of those tested there were positive. Beam Living, which manages the properties at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, did not respond to requests for comment. 

About 143,582 people lived in that area in 2018, according to data available from New York University’s Furman Center, which conducts research on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. The median household income there was $137,130, about 111% more than citywide median household income ($64,850), with nearly 70% of residents self-identifying as white. About 8% identified as Hispanic and 3.2% identified as Black.

Meanwhile, East Harlem saw an almost 20% infection rate, with 2,340 reported cases, city data showed. The population of the neighborhood was about 110,800, with 27.3% identified as Black, 46.5% identified as Hispanic and 16.1% identified as white, according to the Furman Center. Median household income in 2018 was $33,090, about 49% less than the citywide median.

Hard-hit East Elmhurst in Queens had an almost 30% infection rate at its peak and 4,486 reported cases. That area has a population of about 150,131 people, with 4.2% identified as Black, 54.3% identified as Hispanic and 5.7% identified as white. The median household income was $54,250, about 16% less than the median. 

There have been 215,902 cases of COVID-19 reported in New York City as of Thursday, according to New York state data. More than 18,000 have died from the virus, according to the city, and an additional 4,604 deaths are likely to have been caused by the virus, but those victims were not tested.

The privilege of social distance

Many of these neighborhoods that have had the most cases of the virus often have residents living more than one person to a room, according to the Columbia study. That means that someone showing symptoms of the virus may not have a place to isolate themselves. 

“Our study shows that neighborhood socioeconomic status and household crowding are strongly associated with risk of infection,” Dr. Alexander Melamed, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a gynecologic oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in a statement about the research. “This may explain why Black and Hispanic people living in these neighborhoods are disproportionately at risk for contracting the virus.” 

It was Melamed who had the idea to use a publicly available data set that linked people’s addresses to the built environment and their neighborhoods, she said. That led to their finding that household crowding has more to do with virus contraction than density alone. 

“The ability to socially isolate is also something that is somewhat related to privilege,” Gyamfi-Bannerman explained. “A lot of the essential workers come from some of these neighborhoods where people still have to commute and still have to do things that maybe others don’t have to do.”

Addressing disparities

The implications of the study could inform the city’s health department as it navigates the next phases of the pandemic, or the potential second or third wave of the virus. 

“The knowledge that SARS-CoV-2 infection rates are higher in disadvantaged neighborhoods and among people who live in crowded households could help public health officials target preventive measures, like distributing masks or culturally competent educational information to these populations,” according to Melamed.

Research and data like this underscores existing disparities in many of these neighborhoods. Many lack insurance and/or don’t have the funds for preventive medicines, which means they have a host or pre-existing conditions. 

Blackstock, who also works at an urgent-care clinic in Brooklyn, began reading about how the virus was affecting patients in China at the beginning of the year. 

Also read: Almost 1.2 million babies could die during the pandemic — but not from the coronavirus

“They [were] saying that people with high chronic disease burdens, like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, those people aren’t doing well,” she remembered. “I was like, ‘oh no, this is not going to be good.’”

She was proved right, sadly. Many of her patients were essential or public transit workers, and she compared them to the “walking wounded.”

Additionally, there wasn’t enough testing in these neighborhoods, so cases of the virus were not being identified. Once they were, medical facilities in these neighborhoods were ill-equipped to handle the onslaught of sick patients, without enough ventilators, personal protective equipment and other necessary equipment. 

Blackstock said that with the possibility of future waves of the virus, the city needs to do a better job working with people across all neighborhoods. That includes making sure they have enough personal protective equipment, working with community leaders, and amping up testing and contact tracing. 

Also see: After months of speculation, investors get excited about Pfizer, BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine candidate

But it also means addressing the disparities in the system that have existed for years. 

“It’s not just problems with health care,” Blackstock said. “It’s because they live in neighborhoods where there’s not adequate housing. They don’t have job opportunities that offer them health insurance or give them some sense of job security. They don’t have options for a quality education, and all of those factor into someone’s health. It’s important to have a more holistic view of what it takes to make individuals and communities healthy.”

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European stocks lifted by data, but U.S. holiday keeps a lid on action

European stocks were set to break a four-session win streak on Friday, with upbeat economic data overshadowed by persistent worries about rising virus cases in the U.S. That is as a holiday Stateside was set to keep a lid on trading volumes.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index
dipped 0.1% to 367.89, on the heels of a near 2% gain on Thursday. For the week, the index is poised for a 2.7% gain. Elsewhere, the German DAX 30 index
was flat, while the French CAC 40
and the FTSE 100 indexes
fell 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively. Spain’s IBEX 35
stood out with a 0.7% drop.

China’s June Caixin services purchasing managers index rose to the highest level in more than a decade.

And the euro-area Market Services PMI for June came in at 48.3, jumping from May’s 30.5 and beating a forecast of 47.3. Dramatic gains were seen in Spain, where the services PMI jumped to 50.2 from 27.9. The eurozone June Composite PMI was 48.5, from 31.9 in May.

U.S. markets will be closed on Friday for the Independence Day holiday, keeping volumes pinned down in Europe. U.S. stock futures were barely higher, outside of a 0.2% gain for Nasdaq-100 futures
after a record finish for technology stocks, though with more modest gains for the Dow
and S&P 500
on Thursday.

Despite news that the U.S. economy added back 4.8 million jobs in June, an alarming rise in coronavirus infections across 40 of 50 U.S. states — with the bulk in Florida — continues to worry investors. Another blow was dealt on Thursday with reports that final-stage trials of a Moderna
coronavirus candidate were being delayed.

Also drawing attention, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview on with JAMA Network on Thursday that the virus may be mutating to become more transmissible, with high viral loads.

“We don’t have a connection between whether an individual does worse with this or not. It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible. But this is still at the stage of trying to confirm that,” he said.

U.S. stock futures were barely higher, outside of a 0.2% gain for Nasdaq-100 futures, after modest gains for those markets on Thursday.

Among stocks on the move, shares of Delivery Hero
jumped nearly 5% on a positive trading update. The delivery platform said orders numbers for the group in the second quarter jumped 94% from a year ago. Final numbers will be released on July 28.

Shares of Land Securities Group
rose 2.5% after the commercial-property developer and investment company said rental collection and footfall improved in June, and that it plans to restart paying dividends from November.

Banks were on the losing side, with BNP Paribas
fell 1% and Banco Santander
shares fell 1.9%.

Energy names were also lower as oil prices
fell about 1%. Shares of BP
and Royal Dutch Shell
stock fell 1.4% each.

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Fed caps bank dividend payments and suspends share-buybacks for third quarter after stress tests

The Federal Reserve on Thursday voted to require large banks to preserve capital by suspending share repurchases and cap dividend payments in the third quarter.

In a 4-to-1 vote, the Fed will tie the distribution of dividends to a formula based on recent income. The formula sets third-quarter dividends at a level equal to average net income over the past four quarters. Fed Gov. Lael Brainard dissented from the decision.

By that calculation, some banks may have to cut their dividends. A senior Fed official said this could be “binding” for some banks.

In her dissent, Brainard said: “I do not support giving the green light for large banks to deplete capital,” arguing instead for a blanket suspension of dividends.

A senior Fed official said the Fed will go forward on a quarter-by-quarter basis. And banks’ net income might be reduced given the impact of the pandemic. The stress tests cover 34 banks, including five foreign firms.

In a statement, the Financial Services Forum, a trade group of the eight largest banks, said they “understand the Fed’s decision regarding capital returns through the third quarter.” The banks urged the Fed to be transparent with the banks going forward.

The Fed released two studies — a traditional stress test set in February before the pandemic and an analysis of bank capital under three ways the economy might evolve in coming quarters amid the public-health crisis, roughly a V-shaped, U-shaped and W-shaped scenarios.

The traditional stress test showed that all large banks remain well-capitalized.

Under the very worst of the COVID-19 scenarios, “many” banks would be operating within their stress capital buffers and a quarter of the banks would be getting close to minimum capital standards, Brainard said.

“Past experience shows that banks operating close to their regulatory minimums are much less likely to meet the needs of creditworthy borrowers, and the resulting tightening of credit conditions could impair the recovery,” she added.

The Fed said it would require banks to reassess their capital needs and resubmit capital plans later this year.

The stress test capped a day of several actions by the Fed and other regulators.

First, the Fed , the Financial Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, voted to finalize changes to the Volcker Rule, which limits bank trading for their own portfolio.

The Fed, FDIC, OCC, the Federal House Finance Agency and the Farm Credit Administration voted to eliminate bank inter-affiliate margin requirements.

Gregg Gelzinis, senior policy analyst for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, criticized the changes to the Volcker Rule, saying it will permit investment in highly-risky fund vehicles.

Lifting the margin requirements reduces ability of banks to absorb losses if one of its affiliates cannot meet its swap obligations.

“Both these final rules reject important lessons learned in the last financial crisis, putting workers and families at greater risk,” Gelzinis said.

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Rethinking big city life? Here are 8 smaller places that still have the urban perks

Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many people to re-examine their living situations. Amid shutdowns, for instance, having easy access to open space — or a backyard at the very least — emerged as a new priority for many. Meanwhile, the economic turmoil accompanying the pandemic gave city-dwellers reason to question whether it’s really worth paying a premium to live in a big, crowded metropolis.

A recent national survey by Ipsos found that 42% of people have either moved or thought about moving since March, and rural areas, small and midsize cities were their top choices.

Becoming a suburbanite, or transitioning to small-town living, doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon life as an urbanite, though. Some of the country’s best small and midsize towns are within proximity of major metropolises. That means you can enjoy the wide open spaces and quaint downtowns, but still zip into the big city for amenities and attractions (when they reopen, of course) like pro sports, malls, museums and amusement parks.

Ahead, eight awesome small cities that are close to big cities — so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

1. Castle Rock, Colorado (population, 64,827)

Proximity to Denver: 30 miles

A southern suburb of Denver, residents in Castle Rock enjoy wide open spaces (5,475 acres of it, to be exact) with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains serving up a glorious backdrop. Plus, the city sets itself apart with ultra unique amenities like “Challenge Hill,” an outdoor, 200-step incline (think: a stair stepper, but make it scenic), golf courses galore, horseback riding trails and a growing craft brewery scene. A straight shot north on I-25 takes you to Denver, where you’ll find restaurants captained by James Beard Award-winning chefs, more breweries, world-class museums, pro sports teams and funky dive bars dotting Colfax and Broadway.

2. Ann Arbor, Mich. (population, 113,998)

Proximity to Detroit: 45 miles

Ann Arbor, Michigan

iStock/Getty Images

Small town charm collides with collegiate charisma in Ann Arbor. Here, the beloved Literati Bookstore bestows upon the community a public typewriter where customers can write anonymous letters and inspiring messages. Installed on some businesses and homes are tiny fairy doors — architectural doubles of human-sized doors — to serve as portals for the mythical creatures bringing magic and whimsy to Ann Arbor.

Perusing the farmers markets, catching a festival or cheering on the Wolverines can easily fill up weekends in Ann Arbor, which you can rightfully call by its nickname, A-squared, once you live here. But in less than an hour, you can also be in downtown Detroit, enjoying an incredible arts scene and cultural gems like the Motown Museum and the General Motors Center for African American Art inside the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Also read: With New York City offices still closed, companies consider downsizing—or heading for the suburbs

For an architectural case study on the future of stadiums, pay a visit to Little Caesars Arena, where the Pistons and Red Wings play. The deconstructed layout allows for restaurants and retailers to be connected to the stadium, and remain open even when no games or concerts are scheduled.

3. Santa Fe, N.M. (population 84,612) 

Proximity to Albuquerque: 65 miles

Santa Fe, New Mexico

AFP/Getty Images

An artistic wonderland packed with art festivals, galleries and wildly inventive margaritas, Santa Fe has rightfully established itself as “The City Different.” Several time-honored traditions bring residents together here, including the Canyon Road Farolito Walk during Christmastime, Santa Fe Opera tailgating, and a consensus that green chile reigns supreme. But Santa Fe goes to bed pretty early, so if you’re looking for a night out on the town, slip away to downtown Albuquerque. Even better? A $10 train ticket can transport you between the two cities. With a population of 560,200, Albuquerque reigns as New Mexico’s biggest city. Old Town features dining and artisan shops, plus the city has a botanical garden, brewpubs in Nob Hill and a bona fide nightlife scene that keeps Central Ave. thrumming with youthful energy.

4. Gettysburg, Penn. (population: 7,633)

Proximity to Baltimore: 50 miles; proximity to Washington, D.C.: 80 miles; proximity to Philadelphia: 110 miles

You’re already familiar with Gettysburg because of its historical significance and its famed landmarks like Gettysburg National Military Park. But there’s plenty of farm-to-table bounty here, with unpretentious and delicious eateries and cideries. A regional Pie Trail epitomizes small town living, right? But the beauty of Gettysburg is that depending on which way you venture, you can end up in some of the East Coast’s biggest cities. The historic city is within proximity of Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, so you’ll never run out of weekend getaways to experience big-city arts, culture and sports.

5. Asheville, N.C. (population: 92,452)

Proximity to Charlotte, N.C.: 120 miles

Asheville, North Carolina.


Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville excels when it comes to mountain town living. With a cool and laid-back persona, this North Carolina city is home to a highly regarded craft beer scene, plus there’s plenty of outdoor adventures (Hiking! Mountain biking! Whitewater rafting!). Residents here love dogs and have an appreciation for great food (nearby farms supply the bounty to restaurants). And as an added bonus, there’s very little traffic. Instead, jam out at one of the acclaimed live music venues. But when you’re craving a big city experience, Charlotte is 120 miles away and is bidding for attention. It’s home to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a must-visit attraction for intrepid types to try out white-water courses on kayaks and rafts. Go on a self-guided barbecue tour, shop the 7th Street Public Market, and enjoy the nightlife. (We double-dare you to ride the mechanical bull at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Whisky River.)

6. Hamilton, Ohio (population: 62,359) 

Proximity to Cincinnati: 17 miles; Proximity to Dayton: 32 miles

Over the past few years, Hamilton has pumped $65 million into its downtown, and the revitalization efforts are bringing about a thriving arts and culture scene and market-rate apartments. Residents here can enjoy a variety of public art sculptures, the 300-acre Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, and jazz and comedy performances at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. Seasonal festivals like IceFest, where ice sculptors chisel works of art out of blocks of ice, bring the community together even in the doldrums of winter. Located within the Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex, it’s easy to zip between the two big cities, whether it’s for a work commute or to enjoy a day exploring the bigger cities’ attractions like the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

See: 4 questions to ask before retiring to the suburbs

7. Franklin, Tenn.

Proximity to Nashville: 21 miles

One visit to Franklin makes it easy to see why this small city outside of Nashville is growing fast. Franklin has all the charm of a historic Southern town, including a seriously picturesque Main Street and downtown, friendly people and fantastic restaurants cooking up Tennessee favorites from scratch. But it’s also home to headquarters of major corporations like Nissan

and Mars Petcare, which means residents have access to career opportunities they’d usually only find in a much bigger city. Living here means being just a short drive from Nashville’s world-famous music venues, but don’t discount the creative scene in Franklin — you don’t have to leave city limits to see up-and-coming artists at open mic nights or international superstars at Pilgrimage, a two-day music festival that draws acts like Justin Timberlake and the Foo Fighters.

Read: Americans are eyeing homes in the suburbs as pent-up demand hits housing market

8. Hood River, Ore. (population: 7,806)

Proximity to Portland, Ore.: 60 miles

Postcard-perfect, Hood River sits on the front porch of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Range. The 35-mile Hood River Fruit Loop packs a lot of charm per square mile, with snow-capped peaks, orchards, lavender fields, fruit stands and alpacas. Plus, it’s the windsurfing capital of the world if you’re looking to take up a new socially distanced-approved hobby. An hour’s drive along I-84 will get you to Portland, where there’s plenty of coffeehouses, breweries and museums to explore. And, until you’re comfortable flying again, there’s an acclaimed Japanese Garden to help satiate your wanderlust.

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Mortgage rates keep falling to record lows — so is now a good time to refinance?

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a dramatic decline in mortgage rates. But that doesn’t mean now is a good time to refinance for everyone.

Last week, Freddie Mac

reported that mortgage rates hit a new record low for the fourth time this year, with the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropping to 3.13%.

When rates hit their first record low of the year back in March, it triggered a deluge of refinancing activity just as many lenders were transitioning to remote work environments because of the spread of COVID-19. That led to a massive backlog at some lenders, with some borrowers waiting weeks to close their refinances.

Now, the market has settled down, and lenders have adapted to the coronavirus world. And the good news for borrowers is that most markets are served by mobile notary services, said Pat Stone, co-founder and chairman of title insurance company Williston Financial Group, and other states allow for entirely virtual mortgage processes. That means in most parts of the country getting a new home loan won’t mean risking your health, as infection rates remain stubbornly high in many areas.

Read more: Home prices continued to rise even as the coronavirus pandemic swept across America, FHFA says

But will refinancing your mortgage risk your financial health? Here’s what homeowners need to consider before closing on a new loan.

Figure out when you’ll break even

As a general rule of thumb, experts say that a refinance will be worthwhile if it will net a homeowner an interest rate between 50 and 75 basis points lower than their current mortgage’s rate. That’s because the reduced interest will compensate for the closing costs associated with the refinance.

But those savings don’t come immediately — it will take a few year before the savings via monthly payments accrue to outweigh the costs.

“If you’re in your forever home, it might make sense to refinance with a half-point rate decrease,” said Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at personal-finance website NerdWallet. “But if you plan to sell the home within five years or so, it’s most likely not worth it because you’ll pay more in fees than you would save during that time.”

‘If you’re in your forever home, it might make sense to refinance with a half-point rate decrease.’

— Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at personal-finance website NerdWallet

Pay attention to the loan’s term

Homeowners shouldn’t necessarily default to a 30-year loan, despite their popularity.

“Because rates have fallen so much you could probably get into a 15-year loan and maybe maintain or even still lower your monthly payment,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree

. “You’re going to pay off the loan sooner and you’re going to pay less interest.”

Choosing a shorter term has its trade-offs though, mortgage industry experts warn, if locking into such a loan means making larger monthly payments. The standard 30-year mortgage offers flexibility.

“You have the flexibility to pay extra every month when you can afford to, and you can cut back to the minimum required payment during insecure times,” Lewis said.

Don’t be afraid of closing costs

When doing your break-even analysis, don’t shy away from paying closing costs. While paying those costs upfront may seem like it’s making the refinance more expensive, in reality it could be saving you money.

“It’s always attractive to say ‘no cost,’ but you might end up paying for it over the life of the loan,” said Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network, a Massachusetts-based lender. That’s because those costs don’t go away. Rather, they may be rolled into the loan’s balance, or lead to a higher interest rate.

Along those lines, you can prepay your interest by paying for mortgage points. The upfront cost, again, will be higher if you do this, but will save you thousands in interest.

The tumultuous economy has made it harder to qualify

As millions of Americans lost their jobs or were furloughed because of coronavirus-related business closures, lenders went into damage control mode. Many lenders raised the standards borrowers must meet to qualify for a new loan. This included higher minimum credit scores and lower debt-to-income ratios, among other factors.

The prospect of an imminent economic recovery is far from certain. While the job market has improved in recent weeks, some states that have reopened their economies have seen a surge in coronavirus cases.

‘It’s always attractive to say ‘no cost,’ but you might end up paying for it over the life of the loan.’

— Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network

“The V-shaped bounce back was kind of a pipe dream in the first place, and it’s looking less and less likely, notwithstanding the recent strong data that we’ve seen,” Kapfidze said. “I’ve been anticipating that lenders are going to get more and more conservative and restrictive with their lending standards.”

If you were furloughed, laid off or if you’re self-employed, it could be harder to get approval for a refinance. In these cases, borrowers may have luck turning to their current lender for a refinance.

“Your current lender is heavily invested in you,” Kapfidze said. It will cost them money to lose business, so they may be willing to offer homeowners deals on refinancing.

If you received forbearance, you may hit roadblocks

The CARES Act let millions of Americans take advantage of the ability to claim forbearance from their mortgage payments.

But being in a forbearance plan could disqualify a homeowner from certain types of loans. If you skipped payments while in forbearance, you must make at least three current payments after ending the plan to be eligible for a refinance into a loan backed by Fannie Mae

or Freddie Mac.

Also see:Americans are eyeing homes in the suburbs as pent-up demand hits housing market

But if you were one of the many Americans who requested forbearance but continued making payments, you will be eligible to refinance right away so long as you stay current on your loan.

Finally, don’t try to time the market

Yes, mortgage rates have fallen to a new record low multiple times this year. But there’s no guarantee that trend will continue.

“People are waiting for a rate a half a percent below where we are now relatively — that’s getting greedy,” Koss said.

There’s a significant upside risk to mortgage rates right now. Their recent drops have largely come after the stock and bond markets have responded to negative news about the coronavirus pandemic.

The potential for a second wave remains, and some states are seeing another surge of infections as part of the first wave of the outbreak. But health experts have suggested that a vaccine could come very soon, and researchers have several promising candidates for coronavirus treatments.

If a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is announced, that would likely cause markets to rally — and mortgage rates to rise in tandem.

“Don’t try to time the bottom, just pick the rate that makes the most sense,” Koss said.

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