Real Estate Search Data in a COVID-19 Era
Our founder and CEO, Ted Adler, has teamed up with Local Logic’s Madeline Hammer to discuss how the coronavirus has shaped the modern digital real estate landscape. Both of these industry experts have noticed vast changes in the digital space as a result of the virus. In times of such uncertainty when there are often more questions than answers, we have to turn to the data, which is exactly what Ted and Madeline did.
Looking at a Paris study from the early stages of the virus, Madeline found that people were looking to be able to live and have everything they need within 15 minutes of their house, likely looking to avoid travel. Once the virus started progressing, however, people began looking for longer-term solutions. The commuting data showed that people were actually now more inclined to move out of their cities, despite the longer-commute. Seeing the lasting effects of the virus encouraged people to sacrifice proximity to the workplace for a safer living environment.
In the United States, we’ve also been seeing some interesting trends in the real estate market. Ted took us to Showing Time Data (showingtime.com/impactofcoronavirus) to see how the virus has impacted the number of property showings year over year for the coronavirus period. On the national scale, showings plummeted in April and then slowly climbed up as we got into May. Now the numbers are up 7.5% from last year.
This is nothing compared to Massachusetts, however, where they saw a significant drop in April before they started climbing and did not stop. Today the showings are up 35% year over year. New Hampshire recovered even sooner than Massachusetts – around mid-April – and began their climb to what is now a 104% increase from last year’s numbers. These unprecedented increases in showings are likely a result of the same thing we saw in Paris – people adjusting to the online workspace and finding it less necessary to live in city centers.
These lifestyle adjustments have prompted people to start looking at properties in more suburban and rural areas, like Southern New Hampshire, which is often less than an hour drive from Boston. The peaked interest in new homes also demonstrates that people are making lifestyle changes based upon more long-term societal shifts brought on by the pandemic.
During the “COVID-19 era”, technology has played a huge role in maintaining our work life, and people are starting to realize that an online format could be incorporated into the new normal. The higher impact of the pandemic in city centers combined with the technological advancements and adaptations we’ve seen in the workplace have opened doors to new possibilities.
It is the year of video; it’s no longer an option. The virus has forced us into the digital space and has proved that digital collaboration and business can be just as, if not more successful than in-person (at least in some professions). Since we’ve seen so much success with digital communication, the distance to work becomes less of an issue when choosing where to live.
As far as data from Union Street Media specifically, we saw a pretty big dropoff around March 10th when everything started shutting down. The slump lasted about a month, and traffic was down 13%. Since April 10th, traffic is up 33% across all platforms, which is completely unprecedented. What usually happens in the spring is that traffic begins to decrease because people want to be settled by the summer and therefore have already made their decisions. According to Madeline, the looming fall outbreak is changing this, making fall the new “deadline” for being settled. The data reflects this; in the past few weeks, we’ve had some of the highest ever traffic days on the platform.
So what does this say? Basically it means there is more searching happening; people are trying to figure out what they’re going to do and where they’re going to go, and because of the pandemic, the timeline is non-traditional. In the unpredictable climate that inevitably accompanies a pandemic, we are constantly having to change and reevaluate our plans, which means more searches, more showings, and different priorities.
With this, we’re seeing an uptick in the number of pages people are looking at, as well as an expansion of search criteria. People are doing more and more research to try to understand how to navigate the new real estate market. Our job is to provide our clients with the best tools and resources possible so as to maximize their experience once they decide to step out of the digital space and into the world again.
Watch the full video below.