Property management in the time of coronavirus: Weekly headlines & insights – 4/11/20

Robin Young
Robin Young | 4 min. read
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Published on April 10, 2020

This week, the unemployment rate rose ever-higher as 316 million Americans sheltered in place. But at the same time, there were signs of hope for the rental market: 7 in 10 renter households found a way to pay their rent, assisted by property managers’ willingness to create payment plans. Though new lease signings fell, online traffic to leasing sites rose, introducing the possibility that renters’ interest in moving will return once the pandemic is under control.

On top of examining these rental market indicators, this week’s post will talk about two downstream impacts of the CARES Act: The gaps that industry organizations are asking Congress to close, and the difficulties that small businesses are facing in accessing funds to keep their workers on payroll.

Headlines: April Rents, Leasing Interest & CARES Act Impacts

69% of renter households paid their rent by April 5, representing a 12-point decrease from the previous month, when 81% paid on time. As many more Americans find themselves out of work and financially stretched thin over the coming weeks, the pandemic’s impact on the rental market will likely become more evident by the May 1 rent cycle.

New lease signings have fallen by 40% year-over-year as renters rescind notices to move out and renew their existing leases as they shelter in place. However, there are signs that demand may reappear once the virus is under control: Leasing sites saw more traffic this week than last.

Industry organizations are calling for further legislation to address gaps in the CARES Act. The NMHC and NAA have asked Congress to expand their relief package to better assist renters, property owners, multifamily firms, and mortgage servicers; and to ensure that the conditions causing the housing shortage are addressed once the outbreak has been contained.

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6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment this week as more businesses downsized or shuttered, bringing the total number of claims to nearly 17 million. In response, the federal government expanded some workers’ unemployment benefits, though an overloaded system is preventing many workers from filing.

Small businesses struggle to get the resources they need as overwhelming demand from businesses collides with confusion and hesitation among lenders. Many are concerned that the $350 billion set aside for small businesses by the CARES Act won’t be sufficient (or arrive quickly enough) to make a difference. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Small Business Administration had already received 381,000 applications totaling $100 billion.

This Week’s Best COVID-19 Resources for Property Managers

Wondering how things have changed? Jump forward one week to 4/18/20, or back one week to 4/4/20.

Read more on COVID-19
Robin Young

As Buildium’s Senior Researcher, Robin leverages her background in social science research and interest in real estate economics to identify trends in the rental market. She combines intensive market research with insights gleaned from surveys of property managers, renters, and rental owners to examine topics like shifting renter demographics, the housing affordability crisis, and the transformation of property management during COVID-19. She's best known as the author of the annual State of the Property Management Industry Report.

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