Serious Homebuyers Are Active During Pandemic, NAR Flash Survey Shows

By Liz Dominguez

Many fear a stalled market due to the spread of COVID-19. However, according to the newest Economic Pulse Flash Survey from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), buyers are out there, and they are more serious than ever before.

According to the survey, the median number of homes being toured has gone down during the pandemic. Previously, buyers looked at nine homes before purchasing. Now that number is down to three—they’re moving faster amid crisis concerns.

Other buying trends have changed as well. NAR data shows a quarter of surveyed REALTORS® with clients in purchasing contracts had at least one homebuyer who bought a home without ever physically seeing the property.

Yes, the markets are showing delays. Sixty percent said their clients are pressing pause for a couple of months. Completely stalled, though? No—they’re simply simmering, responses show. Consumers and the industry are adapting to the changes, awaiting a hopeful return to normalcy.

“Expect second quarter home sales activity to slow down with the broad observance of stay-at-home orders, but sales will pick up when the economy reopens as many potential homebuyers and sellers indicate they’re still in the market or will be in a couple of months,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Home prices remain stable as deals continue to happen with the growing use of new technology tools. Remarkably, 10 percent of REALTORS® report the same level or even more business activity now than before the economic lockdown.”

How else are the markets faring? The survey shows 33 percent (a third of REALTORS®) have not experienced closing delays. For those who have reported delays, these road bumps often happen during the financing, appraisal and home inspection portions of the transaction process.

As shown in a previous NAR flash survey, the rental segment continues to face hurdles as some renters are unable to pay rent; however, flexibility continues. Delayed payment requests are being accommodated by 41 percent of property managers and 24 percent of individual landlords. It’s not an overly bleak picture, however—59 percent of individual landlords and 46 percent of property managers reported no issues, with rents being paid on time.

The key to adapting? Technology. To cultivate new client relationships, surveyed respondents say they will leverage live videos (33 percent), social media (59 percent), e-closing tech (42 percent), e-signatures (77 percent), virtual tours (34 percent), messaging apps (38 percent) and WebEx/Zoom (30 percent).

Of those surveyed, 88 percent are in a state that has declared a state of emergency, and 81 percent are working in a local market with presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19.