Surveys show buyers, sellers and landlords are adjusting to a new normal

by Timothy Inklebarger

Buyers, sellers and agents are all still figuring out how to move forward in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and a new survey from the National Association of Realtors gives a view into how they’re getting that done.

NAR has conducted three coronavirus-related surveys since early April, and its most recent results appeared to have some good news concerning buyer interest, with 35% of respondents reporting a more than 50% decline in buyer interest — that’s down from 45% at the beginning of the month.

Buyers also maintained their largely wait-and-see approach to putting their homes on the market. By the end of April, 51% of respondents said their clients were delaying the process by a couple of months. That’s compared to 32% who said they’re either continuing the process with no change or continuing but relying on virtual communication. Another 9% said they are on an indefinite hiatus.

A similar survey of agents by real estate data research company Point2 Homes, conducted between April 7 and 14, showed that 32% of survey respondents said buyers have put everything on hold, 20% reported over half their clients are waiting, and another 25% noted a significant drop in business.

Meanwhile, sellers held steady over April on price — about three-quarters of NAR respondents said at the beginning and end of the month that their clients are not lowering their price.   

Buyers also appear to be adjusting to new safety measures necessary to curb the spread of the virus, according to the NAR survey. At the beginning of the month, 17% of agents said home searches had been postponed due to the need for close person-to-person interactions, but that figure had dropped to 9% by the end of the month.

That backs up another statistic from the report that shows that agents are seeing fewer buyers delaying their searches today. Fifty-nine percent reported clients delaying their search at the beginning of April, but by the end of the month, only 43% were delaying their search.

“One in five potential buyers have dropped out of the market due to job loss concerns; hopes are the massive financial stimulus package can help replace a good portion of lost income until the economy steadily reopens,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release. “More home sellers are needed to relieve the acute inventory shortage.”

The NAR survey also showed individual landlords are having an increasingly easier time collecting rent since the initial shock of the coronavirus crisis, but the same cannot be said of property managers.

Individual landlords have consistently done better than property managers in collecting rent over the month. In the first week of April, landlords said rents were being paid on time 56% of the time, compared to 33% of property managers. Those numbers had jumped to 61% and 42%, respectively, by the end of the month, according to the survey.

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