Paycheck Protection Program for Independent Contractors

Paycheck Protection Program for Independent Contractors

 We are living in difficult times that has hit the real estate industry hard in some markets, but not so much (yet) in others. The big question is going to be, how are millions of people out of work going to impact the housing market. In cities like Seattle and Austin that have a large tech base of workers, it could be a buying opportunity and slight blip in an otherwise hot market. In others, such as Detroit, there could be a downturn. Nonetheless, listing volume will likely decrease right at the start of the traditional peak of the spring listing season. This impacts the income of real estate agents, brokers, owners, and tour companies like us and our photographers.

Luckily the Federal government has stepped in to help. Specifically for small businesses and independent contractors like agents and photographers, there is the CARES Act that was passed in March, and the specific program called the Paycheck Protection Program. In short, it is a way to get a very low interest loan from the SBA and if you pay your employees, or yourself as an independent contractor or self employed person, it can be converted into a grant (a forgivable loan) for the amount paid for up to 8 weeks of payments. It is effectively unemployment assistance for small businesses and independent contractors, of which most agents and photographers are classified.

You can find details on the program here:

For independent contractors and self employed individuals, you can start to apply for the loan on April 10th. Small businesses and sole proprietorships stated the application process on April 3rd. It is likely you will want to do this through your bank, as most FDIC insured banks are able to handle these loans.  The maximum loan you can get is 2.5 times your average monthly payroll for 2019, subject to a cap of 100,000 for any one individual.  Other expenses like interest on a mortgage and utility bills can also be covered. 

Example of the loan amount. Lets say your annual commission income from your business was $120,000 in 2019.  The monthly average would be $8,3333.33 (because you are over the $100,000 cap, the max monthly average is $100,000/12), and your maximum loan amount would therefore be $20,833 (2.5*$8,333.33). If you paid an assistant or someone as an employee where you issued a W-2, you can include that in your loan amount too. Otherwise, if you paid someone as an independent contractor, they would have to go through the same loan process on their own. Your 1099-Misc or other documentation will be required as part of the loan process.

You can effectively use this money to pay yourself during this downturn and the government will forgive the loan if you apply for the forgiveness from your bank. So yes, there are some hoops to jump through but this is a great way to help you through a difficult time.  You are going to want to do it as soon as you can and likely through your existing bank as many are limiting applicants to existing customers.  And, the banks are still figuring it out – I applied for our company on April 3rd and it was really just an interest form I filled out for Chase Bank.  They will get back to me…let’s see how long this takes.  I will post with an update later. 

Benefits of this Paycheck Protection Program:

  • Forgivable loan grant – you will have to apply to get it forgiven from your bank
  • Interest is 1%
  • Payments deferred for 6 months
  • Anything not forgiven is paid back over a 2 year term
  • No personal guarantee or collateral required

It is a process to go through, but this is effectively a way independent contractors and self employed individuals, along with small businesses that have employees (including yourself) can get unemployment insurance, something that really has not existed before.  I am grateful for the relief the government is trying to provide and let’s all hope this is enough to get us through this difficult time in our country.

COVID-19 Options

COVID-19 Options

The COVID-19 crisis has changed how we live, work and play. Some of these changes will likely continue after the virus is gone.  Some states and cities are in a virtual lock down, whereas in other areas real estate and other “essential businesses” are continuing on, in limited ways, while practicing the social distancing policies set forth by government officials.

In that regard, in locations where we can continue to create listing content, we will do so under the below practices. Note this includes your and your seller’s cooperation to make it safe for all parties involved. Our photographers are in and out of many houses every day and their exposure needs to be minimized to ensure the safety of all.

In markets where third-party services have been banned, we can still help you create great content for your listing. See our Self Service page that provides options on how you can do things yourself, including how we can help you create floor plans from any source and do photo enhancement of your images.

Content Buyers Want

The FloorPlanOnline virtual tour is the perfect marketing tool for your listings because it includes the content (floor plans) that Buyers deem most important as part of their online search (see the Power of Plans report), it helps convince sellers to pick you (because Sellers were once Buyers), and it keeps your brand with lead capture form on your virtual tour on 97% of the top 10 websites, including Zillow, Trulia and


Best Practices for COVID-19

  • Reschedule the shoot if any of the occupants or you are feeling ill or have been in contact with COVID-19
  • Disinfect commonly touched areas like doors, light switches, etc
  • BEFORE the photographer arrives – have all lights on, blinds up and the property needs to be ready for a shoot.  We will not be touching or moving anything, so we will be shooting “as is” and we want to minimize the time in any property so if it is not ready when we arrive, the shoot will need to be rescheduled and there will be a trip charge assessed.
  • Practice social distancing – this means the only person in the house should be the photographer and there should be a minimum of 15 minutes where no one is in the house before and after.  The family and pets need to be out of the house by at least the 15 minute rule.

Other helpful prep tips:

Exterior Areas

  • remove cars from view if possible
  • close windows
  • sweep or blow sidewalks, decks and yard
  • remove clutter, garden tools, hoses, trash cans from view
  • stage outdoor living areas
  • clean Pool & surrounding areas
Kitchen & Dining Areas

  • remove Art From Refrigerator
  • wipe down appliances
  • remove clutter like small appliances from counters
  • clean sink and other areas
  • stage eating areas (if desired) to show lifestyle vignettes
Bathrooms & Bedrooms

  • make the beds and remove any clutter under them
  • remove general clutter like clothes, cords, and toys
  • clean shower doors and sinks
  • put the toilet lids DOWN
  • Clean mirrors
  • hang freshly folded towels
  General Prep

  • less is more – de-clutter as much as possible
  • any landscaping or yard work should be done a day or two before, NOT during the shoot
  • if aerial is involved, make sure anything visible is put away
  • unlock doors or provide lock box access instructions
  • provide contact follow up so photographer can call or text when done
Tour- Week #60

Tour- Week #60

Desirable Bella Casa!

Apex, NC

See The Story of This Home

Desirable Bella Casa! Meticulously maintained home shows like a model. Stunning upgrades to this expansive home include true hardwood floors, wrought iron spindles, office w/French doors, granite countertops, white kitchen w/enormous island, gas cooking & subway tile backsplash. Light & bright family room features a gas fireplace. Serene master suite has two walk-in closets, dual vanities, separate water closet & relaxing soaking tub. Flex Room on 1st floor could be 5th bedroom. Refrigerator, W/D convey.  

Professional HDR Photography  by Randall J.

If you are interested in listing your home or have questions, please contact:

Sonya May

Keller Williams – Cary

201 Shannon Oaks Circle, Cary, NC 27511

Spotlight Tour- Week #59

Spotlight Tour- Week #59

Quogue Village South of Highway Masterpiece!


See The Story of This Home

Quogue Village South of Highway Masterpiece! Extraordinary attention to detail. Huge rooms, effortless room flow. Main house with 6 bedrooms and 2 bedroom guest cottage. Enormous gourmet chef’s kitchen w/top end appliances. In ground gunite saltwater 16x 50 pool. Amenities galore: elevator, cac, cent vac, hardwood & radiant heat floors, outdoor shower, hot tub and more. Beautifully designed and built..a jewel. Co-exclusive.

Photographer- Jim Harrison  Image Habitat, Inc.

If you are interested in listing your home or have questions, please contact:



Frank Malagon

Town & Country Real Estate

132-9 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978



New Photo/Video Editor

New Photo/Video Editor

Introducing the new Photo/Video editor.

We spent last year completely recoding our back-end video engine to make it more scalable and reliable so it is able to produce smoother, more cinematic videos.  Now, we have completely recoded the front-end editor you use to create the videos.  It is built using modern code and comes with these benefits highlighted below:

  • NO use of Adobe Flash, which means you can use your iPad to edit the photo order and create a video.  The old editor required Flash.
  • Simplified Intro/Exit branding slides that pull from your profile info & can be shown independently of each other
  • Ability to add photos or even ready to use video clips and sequence them into the timeline.
  • Auto syncing of the floor plan images that can be inserted in the video (at this time they are not shown in the photo gallery because the point & click plan shows the floor plans there)
  • Add a Text slide to help communicate a space or feature. This is similar to the text posts you see on Facebook, and it includes the ability to add in emojis. 😉  You can also use this to create a custom branding slide and select to show it ONLY on the branded version of the video we create (so you do not get in trouble with your MLS and their unbranded requirements. 💡 See example below.
  • Auto saves – no more save and preview or save.  It just does it.
  • Video length indicator
  • Multi-select images – use SHIFT+Click to select
  • Quick editing panel for everything you can change on each media item.  See example below.


This is the text slide editor so you can create any kind of custom slide and inject into the video timeline.

Click the photo (media card) to show the quick edit panel for each media item.

Floor Plan images are automatically updated when changes are made to the floor plan (under Edit FloorPlan). Only available in the video timeline for now.

Virtual Showings in Uncertain Times

Virtual Showings in Uncertain Times

The US, and World, is currently going through unprecedented life events that really have not been seen since the 1918 flu pandemic.  Schools are closing for weeks, businesses are shutting down and people are hunkering down at home.  We also understand some sellers are leery of having people tour their home for sale.

Marketing of your listings does not need to stop.  Leveraging virtual tools is a great way to minimize some of these fears, and frankly the online audience likely will never be greater.  To help communicate the idea of leveraging virtual showings, we created a special web page around the ideal. 

Check it out here.

You and your sellers have invested a lot of time and money into the marketing process.  Leverage the FloorPlanOnline tour to showcase your listing 24/7.  In certain markets we have Matterport cameras that can add on an immersive online experience so potential buyers can point and click their way through a listing.  This provides complete transparency and it is the next best thing to being there.  In fact, we have had people buy $1 million homes just by looking at our tour – a physical property visit was never made.

So we highly recommend adding Matterport to your tour.  Just select the option when you place an order.  If you already have a tour, we can revisit the property can create a 3D property scan, or in some cases where we created the initial floor plan with a Matterport camera, we can simply activate the Matterport scan on your tour.  Please contact customer care to enable this feature.