It’s hard to believe the COVID-19 pandemic has been a fixture of everyday life since March 2020. While much of the U.S. has returned to some semblance of “normalcy,” highly infectious variants such as Delta threaten to curb back some of the newly-gained momentum, and a huge swath of the industry is concerned, according to new RISMedia survey results.
RISMedia surveyed nearly 500 real estate professionals to gauge the industry’s confidence level as it relates to the ongoing pandemic and emerging variants. While the majority of survey respondents (58%) say the pandemic is not currently affecting their business, a significant segment (42%) report otherwise.
Confidence levels in the industry have decreased amid rising concerns about COVID’s variant, Delta, which is more contagious than its predecessors and the cause of more than 80% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases, according to Yale Medicine.
Safety Protocols Still in Play
For survey respondent James Moore, a REALTOR® with HomeSmart in Arizona, there’s more at risk due to his own age and the age bracket of his typical client. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risk for hospitalization from a COVID outbreak increases for people in their 50s to 80s, with those 85 and older most likely to get severely sick.
“As a senior working with seniors, we are the most vulnerable group if unvaccinated. We are less likely to allow open houses or showing,” says Moore, who takes several precautions when clients ask for live showings in homes he’s listed. These include:
- Asking them to read the “Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic” from the National Association of REALTORS®
- Requesting that buyers and agents wear a face mask while on the property
- Having them wear booties and use the sanitation solution provided at the front door
- Requesting that the buyer agent note which items were touched in the house and wiping down those areas
Across the board, showings and open houses are the business areas most affected by COVID, as reported by 28% and 26% of respondents, respectively. Office environments (21%) and closings (13%) continue to see an impact as well.
As some regions revert back to indoor-mask wearing per new CDC guidelines, we may see a rise in business impact and a return to safety protocols. Many areas across the U.S. have continued implementing precautionary measures to help control the spread of the virus and keep both agents and consumers safe and comfortable.
Survey respondent Kay Marlin, broker with Chatel Real Estate in Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia, continues providing hand sanitizer at her listings, and her office has remained closed, with brokers and agents working virtually.
Many industry practitioners have followed a similar pattern, implementing a hybrid in-person and virtual strategy.
“I still provide sanitizer, gloves and masks if people feel more comfortable wearing them. Now we’re hearing that California is requiring all masks again, inside and outside,” says Nancy Davis, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Consultants Realty in Ohio. “Most of us have been vaccinated but this variant is scaring people. People throughout our states are beginning to realize that a vaccination is good and will save lives. None of us want another close-down.”
More Shutdowns Ahead?
By far, another wide-spread closure is what respondents fear the most, with 58% believing that Delta or other strains could reintroduce shutdowns or restrictions.
“Our leaders worked hard to bring COVID under control and we have obtained a high vaccination rate allowing people to go about their business. Our buyers and sellers are comfortable with current CDC guidelines,” says James Harriff, a broker with RE/MAX Masters in New York. “The concern with the Delta strain is whether the tighter government restrictions on activity will be reimposed.”
Despite these fears, brokers and agents agree that another “shutdown” would not halt real estate completely as industry professionals are now better equipped to handle COVID-related restrictions. In fact, 55% of survey respondents say they are “very” prepared to keep business operating virtually, with only 39% “somewhat” confident they can do so and 6% “not at all ready.”
This survey was originally published by RISMedia. To read the rest of the survey and the accompanying infographic, click here.