COVID-19’s Short-Term Impact on Real Estate Search Terms

March 18, 2020
Man slipping footies over brown shoes.
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Consumer confidence, builder confidence, and the fundamentals for the economy all looked very strong going into what was looking like a promising spring selling season for real estate. Anecdotally, some pockets of real estate agents still report they are quite busy taking Millennial buyers to property showings because these buyers think they’re “invincible” to the coronavirus, and they want to take advantage of low mortgage loan interest rates. 

Yet the bigger picture, at least short term, is showing that interest in buying is falling as indicated by early traffic data collected by Point2 Homes and Google Trends. 

U.S. traffic numbers on Point2Home, an international real estate portal, fell 35% between March 9 and March 16 and averaged a 24%-drop between the March 4-9 and the March 11-16 period. Google Trends figures show the usage of search terms like “houses for sale”, “condos for sale”, “apartments for rent”, and “real estate” declined 23% between March 6-13, which was when the NCAA cancelled March Madness and spring college sports and the professional sports leagues announced postponements of their current seasons.

However, there could be opportunity despite adversity, according to Dean deTonnancourt, former president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

“Interest rates remain low, continuing to adjust daily. This provides an opportunity for home buyers as well as those seeking to refinance. While some home buyers will be forced to delay a purchase due to employment gaps, most buyers who have simply placed their search on hold will likely resume home search activities quickly,” he says.

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