Property management in the time of coronavirus: Weekly headlines & insights – 5/9/20

Robin Young
| 5 min. read
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Published on May 8, 2020

On Friday, two highly anticipated figures were released: The number of rent payments made during the first week of May, and the number of jobs that were lost during the month of April. Expectations were low—but while the jobs report was as dire as anticipated, the rent week data was, surprisingly, a source of relief.

In this week’s COVID-19 digest, we’ll compare this week’s rent payment data to this week last month, as well as last year. We’ll present a handful of statistics that help to untangle the current state of unemployment in the U.S. We’ll cover the latest aid that the rental housing industry is urging Congress to provide. Last, we provide a comprehensive set of resources for property managers as they consider reopening parts of their communities in the weeks and months to come.

Headlines: May Rents, April Job Loss, and Aid Measures to Shore Up the Rental Housing Industry

80.2% of residents paid their rent by May 6—just 1.5 percentage points behind May 2019. Comparing this month to last month reveals another encouraging statistic: In April, only 78% of residents had paid their rent by 6th. In spite of unprecedented rates of unemployment and the looming threat of rent strikes, the number of residents who remain committed to paying their rent has defied predictions. Payment rates are expected to tick up throughout the month as they did in April. (Another number to watch this month will be the number of residents who pursue payment plans—in April, less than 5% of residents took advantage of this option.)

The April jobs report was released on Friday, and it confirmed fears of Depression-era unemployment rates across the U.S. Here are a few different ways to look at this trend:

  • 20.5 million jobs were lost in the private sector in April. The hardest-hit industry was leisure and hospitality, with 7.7 million jobs lost in a single month. Hawaii, Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia, and Rhode Island saw the largest number of unemployment claims per capita; with Nevada, Washington, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire close behind.
  • The unemployment rate hit 14.7% by the end of April. By comparison, 10% of Americans were unemployed during the worst month of the Great Recession. As high as this number is, it’s likely an undercount: The unemployment rate only captures the number of Americans who are actively looking for work, but job openings simply don’t exist in many industries and locations at the moment.
  • In the last 7 weeks, 33.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. 3.2 million claims were filed in the last week, in comparison with 665,000 during the worst week of the Great Recession.
  • 77% of workers who have been laid off or furloughed expect their jobs to be waiting for them once their local economy reopens. However, 42% of recent layoffs could be permanent as companies go bankrupt and consumers hesitate to resume their normal routines as the virus continues to circulate.

115 organizations have joined together to ask Congress to provide relief for renters and landlords. The two bills they’ve proposed address the dire need for targeted aid for renters who are at risk of losing their housing once eviction moratoriums are raised and temporarily deferred rents come due. Simultaneously, rental owners and property management companies will need help making ends meet when rents aren’t coming in—especially since many aren’t eligible for the Small Business Administration’s loan programs.

Resources for Property Managers Preparing to (Eventually) Reopen Communities

Across the country, property managers are taking the time they need to devise well-thought-out plans for reopening their communities in gradual stages. Their priority remains clear: protecting their residents and their teams.

Wondering how things have changed? Jump forward one week to 5/16/20, or jump back one week to 5/2/20.

Read more on COVID-19
Robin Young
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 renters, property managers, and rental owners to examine topics like shifting renter demographics, the housing affordability crisis, and the transformation of property management during COVID-19.

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