After weeks of remaining sheltered in place, May seems to be the month that all of our hard work staying home pays off. Many local and state governments seem to feel confident enough that the peak has passed to begin slowly reopening some nonessential businesses. From construction to real estate, many of the vendors property owners rely on should be returning to work this month, albeit with precautionary measures in place.
And just in the nick of time. As you’ll see below, renters are also anxious to make a move while there’s a potential window of opportunity to do so. Are your units ready to be shown? Are your online listings up to date? If not, now is the time.
Renters Are Back on the Move
As restrictions severely limiting our mobility came down nationwide in March, it’s no wonder we saw interest in moving wane. But with a trend towards loosening restrictions, renters also seem to have a renewed interest in finding a new home, according to data from listing service Rent Café.
The listing site saw apartment searches plummet 24 percent during the week of March 11-17, which is when many shelter-in-place orders went into effect. The following week, searches were down an additional 9 percent. But beginning the last week in March, the site started to see an upswing, which has lasted throughout April. “Searches for apartments have returned to pre-pandemic volumes, both on Google Trends, on our website and in real life, a breeze of optimism for both consumers and the rental market eager to move forward,” according to the report.
Furthermore, in surveys of renters on its site, most intended to move forward with their planned move as soon as possible, despite continued COVID-19 restrictions. Of the 9,000 respondents surveyed in mid-April, 62 percent planned to move as soon as they found an apartment. A mere 11 percent planned to stay put, versus 17 percent of respondents in a similar survey at the end of March. Around 15 percent hadn’t decided yet, and 9 percent planned to put their search on hold for a few more weeks.
A growing percentage of renters had also changed their search to find something less expensive than they had originally planned, indicating that there is likely to be continued economic uncertainty amongst this group. Virtual tours were also increasingly popular, with 28 percent of respondents saying they would make their decisions based on online pictures and tours, versus only 17 percent in a similar survey in Mid-March.