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About Julija A.

Julia A. is a writer at SmallBizGenius.net. With experience in both finance and marketing industries, she enjoys staying up to date with the current economic affairs and writing opinion pieces on the state of small businesses in America. As an avid reader, she spends most of her time poring over history books, fantasy novels, and old classics. Tech, finance, and marketing are her passions, and she’s a frequent contributor at various small business blogs.

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Big Business

A recent survey by CreditKarma has revealed that the majority of unemployed Americans - 80% of them - are not taking advantage of the available COVID-19 relief options, even though they are aware of the opportunity. The poll, which surveyed 1,037 adults, explains the reasons for numerous Americans struggling through the pandemic without availing themselves of the much-needed financial aid. There were multiple explanations in the questionnaire for participants to choose from, and they could select more than one. Sixty-two percent of the respondents said that they knew about this option but were confused about where and how they should apply for it, 7% percent of them noted that the overall process was “too confusing” or expected the waitlist to be too long. Twenty-seven percent believed they wouldn’t qualify, so they didn’t attempt to apply, while 16% were “overwhelmed by information.” Eight percent didn’t want to take the needed funds from someone who might need it more. Only 20% of unemployed Americans who completed the survey applied for, received, and used financial help during the pandemic. Authors of the survey also pointed out that some of the respondents did not understand that the funds they received throughout the pandemic - such as stimulus checks and boosted unemployment insurance - were part of the federal COVID-19 relief efforts. Out of people who participated in the survey, 68% said stimulus checks were the most helpful in maintaining financial stability throughout the pandemic. Forty-eight percent thought the same about unemployment benefits, and 28% felt it was the suspension of student loan payments that helped them stay afloat. It might still not be too late to qualify for assistance. If you haven’t received your stimulus check or filed your taxes yet, you can adjust the tax filings and claim the money as a fully refundable tax credit. If you are a small-business owner, check with your bank whether there are some benefits you could apply for. The best banks for small business offer their own COVID-19 relief options you might be eligible for.

June 10,2021
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Big Business

The US housing market has been steady for several years now, with home prices climbing year after year. However, the recent pandemic brought certain changes, and while it’s almost certain there won’t be a serious market crash, several states have been experiencing significant shifts in their numbers. GOBankingRates has evaluated over 500 cities, and Florida came out as the unlucky winner with the highest rates of underwater mortgages and foreclosures, followed closely by Illinois. Here are the cities whose housing markets have the highest chances of experiencing a downturn. 1. Fort Myers, FloridaWith the median list price of $249,999, Fort Myers experienced a 1.4% drop in prices in the last two years. The percentage of underwater mortgages in Fort Myers is 6.9%, comparable to the national average. However, the number of days a home lingers on the market is 105 days - much longer than the nationwide average of 66 days. In terms of foreclosure, however, the situation in Fort Myers is not that unfavorable, with one in every 1,921 homes ending up foreclosed. 2. Peoria, IllinoisPeoria has the highest chances of its housing market turning ugly. With a 16% drop in prices over the last two years, the median home list price is $124,450. The percentage of underwater mortgages is also alarmingly high - 21%, which is more than double the national average. While not the highest on our list, its foreclosure rate of one in every 932 homes is also problematic. 3. Portsmouth, VirginiaThe unflattering title of the city with the highest foreclosure rate goes to Portsmouth, Virginia. Here, one in every 730 homes ends up getting foreclosed. At 19.4%, its rate of underwater mortgages is also high compared to that of other cities on this list. The median list price in Portsmouth is $165,700 - a 1.5% increase over the past two years. 4. Miami Beach, FloridaMiami Beach, a popular resort, made this list because houses here spend the most time on the market - 225 days on average. A 5% drop in prices over the last two years is another worrisome statistic, mainly because it’s in stark contrast with the rising home prices across the US. The median list price of $499,000 may be the silver lining in this case, along with a low rate of foreclosures, with just one in 2,374 homes getting foreclosed. It seems that Miami might not be in such big trouble and that it could benefit from its real estate agents simply employing better tactics or real estate software. 5. Waterbury, ConnecticutBeing close to New York City didn’t bring much to Waterbury in the last couple of years. It has the highest percentage of underwater mortgages of all the cities listed in the research - 29.4%. Even though the median list price has risen 11.9% and is currently standing at $125,000, there are still reasons to worry. Luckily, the number of foreclosures is moderate - one in every 1,159 homes gets seized and sold to set off outstanding mortgage payments. 6. Sarasota, FloridaHouses for sale in Sarasota currently have a relatively high median list price - $359,000, which is a 5.6% increase from 2019. Underwater mortgages stand at 4.5%. One in every 1,520 homes gets foreclosed. The time a house spends on the market waiting for the buyer is similar to Fort Myers, merely a week shorter. 7. Dayton, OhioAt first glance, Dayton, Ohio, is doing just fine. The prices have increased 16.5% since 2019, and the houses are still affordable at the median list price of $67,000. However, the percentage of underwater mortgages is 27.6% - the second-highest on our list. What’s more, the foreclosure rate here is higher than the national average. 8. Fort Lauderdale, FloridaThe median list price of a house in Fort Lauderdale is currently $499,900, 0.2% lower than two years ago. The foreclosure rates in this city on Florida’s southeastern coast are similar to those in Sarasota. Still, the number of days houses stay on the market in Fort Lauderdale is 133 days, which is more than double the national average. 9. Valdosta, GeorgiaValdosta’s low foreclosure rates may make someone wonder why it made this list, considering that only one in 3,304 homes ends up getting foreclosed. But if we look at other relevant numbers, the picture looks a lot less bright. The prices in Valdosta fell 6% last year, and the median list price is $154,900. This in itself wouldn’t be too problematic if it weren’t for the double-digit underwater mortgage rate of 22.7%. 10. West Palm Beach, FloridaWest Palm Beach seems to be suffering from a high foreclosure rate: One in every 1,297 homes gets seized from defaulting mortgagors. Home prices have gained 1.4% and currently stand at $298,000. The average time a home stays on the market in this city north of Miami is 119 days. The Bottom LineThe housing markets we have reviewed here struggle with high rates of foreclosure and underwater mortgages, as well as sluggish or even negative home price growth. However, looking at the broader picture, we can see that the US housing market might, in fact, be in overdrive as millions of Millennials have reached first-home buying age and are looking to settle somewhere without having to go through another tenant screening procedure.

June 10,2021
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Small Business

The Paycheck Protection Program, a disaster relief program aimed at helping small businesses recover from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, ended May 31, after it had provided over $798 billion in economic relief to more than 8.5 million small businesses and nonprofits, said US Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a statement issued last week. She pointed out that this program helped small businesses across the US overcome the “once-in-generation economic crisis” and that she is proud of the changes in the system which provided underserved businesses access to this program in the later rounds. “In 2021, 96% of PPP loans went to small businesses with fewer than 20 employees,” added Guzman. The PPP is only one of the eight relief programs established to assist nonprofits and small businesses throughout the pandemic. The other seven programs include the SBA Debt Relief program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan, its three advances, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The PPP played a significant role in economic recovery. It was among the first debt relief programs to provide much-needed help to small businesses affected by the pandemic to keep workers on the payroll and their operations running. The overall implementation was very effective, especially in later rounds, when the program opened its doors for the underserved. While some small-business owners looked for banks that could cater to small businesses, others got lucky with the changes to the PPP funds introduced in 2021. Thirty-two percent of the loans from the PPP went to Low-and-Moderate Income, and PPP loans averaged $42,000 in 2021, which clearly shows that the relief went to the smallest of small businesses. Community financial institutions stepped in in this case, providing more than $30 billion through 1.5 million loans.

June 08,2021
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Startups

Payments startup Marqeta Inc. is eyeing a valuation of more than $12 billion in its US initial public offering, capitalizing on a surge in online shopping and food delivery payments processed through its platform during the coronavirus pandemic. The California-based company plans to sell approximately 45.4 million shares priced at $20 and $24 apiece, thus raising $1 billion at the top end of the range. Well known for enabling companies to issue debit and credit cards to their staff, Marqeta was launched with the aim to digitize commercial payment transactions between businesses and their clients via its open API. Headed by its founder and CEO, Jason Gardner, the payments startup previously announced that its revenue doubled to $290.3 million in 2020 as homebound customers made more online purchases. Marqeta’s primary offerings include issuing physical, virtual, and tokenized cards, transaction processing, and applications for development, administration, anti-fraud, and chargebacks. Additionally, one of the startup’s most popular features is the Just-In-Time (JIT) Funding functionality that overcomes the need to maintain sufficient balances for each cardholder transaction. Essentially, JIT Funding is a method of funding an account automatically - in real-time - during the transaction process. The company has been operational since 2010, and its growing list of customers now includes Uber, Square, Klarna, and DoorDash. It doubled its valuation to $4.3 billion in May 2020 when it raised $150 million in funding. With about 530.2 million Class A and Class B shares outstanding, Marqeta could be valued at over $12 billion this year. The paperwork for Marqeta’s listing was confidentially submitted in February. The stock is expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol MQ with JP Morgan Goldman Sachs as lead underwriters of the offering.

June 07,2021
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