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How the coronavirus is affecting the rental market

Business Insider logo Business Insider 3/23/2020 Libertina Brandt
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    Spring is when people typically start looking to move. The nationwide listing service RENTCafé says the industry widely refers to the spring as "renting season,' whether that's because of the warmer weather or renters coming out of some kind of hibernation.

    But the coronavirus pandemic worsened in the US as temperatures rose in March, and renter interest is looking frosty.

    RENTCafé reported that rental housing searches on its site dropped by 25% from March 11 to March 17. For the same week a year earlier, traffic was down just 4%.

    That same week, overall traffic on RENTCafé was down by 22%, paid advertisement was down by 28%, and 48% fewer renters were searching for apartment utility information.

    According to RENTCafé, Google Trends showed a sharp shift in renter interest for terms including "home office setup," "home workout," and "home disinfection." On the flip side, Google Trends saw a search decrease in terms like "apartments near me," "apartments for rent," and "apartments."

    It's not just the rental market that has seen a dip in interest.

    Google Trend data showed that searches with the term "real estate" dropped 23% from March 6 to March 13, according to a report by the real estate online marketplace, Point2Homes. The data also showed drops in the searches for "houses for sale," "condos for sale," and "apartments for rent." And on the Point2Homes platform, US traffic on the site dropped by 35% from March 9 to March 16.

    The Seattle-based brokerage Redfin also reported a drastic drop in consumer interest. According to company data, the year-over-year growth of nationwide home-buying demand dropped from roughly 27% in January and February to 1% as of March 18. Redfin suspended all open houses nationwide earlier this week.

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