Nearly All Builders in Recent Survey Say Buyer Traffic is Down
Traffic of prospective buyers remains the most adverse impact of the coronavirus to builders in week 3 of NAHB's single-family survey, with 96% of builders reporting the virus was having at least some effect on the number of prospective buyers — up from 93% in the week 2 survey. Cancellations or delays of existing remodeling projects is the second greatest challenge, affecting 87% of builders compared to 82% of builders in week 2. The length of time to obtain a plan review for a single-family home also affected a greater percentage of respondents, increasing from 80% in week 2 to 86% in week 3. This result is based on 256 responses collected online between March 31 and April 6. As in the first two weeks of the poll, the largest share of responses in week 3 came from single-family home builders; most were owner, president or CEO of their companies. The geographic distribution of the responses continues to be somewhat variable, with the share from the Northeast increasing regularly, from 6% in week 1 to 15% in week 3. Additional concerns are charted in the graph below. [caption id="attachment_17856" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Source: NAHB Online Single-Family Survey, March 31-April 6, 2020[/caption] All eight areas tracked in previous weekly surveys continue to be an issue for the majority of builders. An additional question to the week 3 survey — "ability to obtain new business loans or deal with banks on existing loans" — turned out to be the least common problem in the poll, but more than half of respondents still cited it as an issue. Regionally, a greater percentage of workers in the Northeast have been reluctant to report to a construction site. Factors contributing to this may be the growing number of survey respondents from the Northeast, which has experienced particularly widespread and severe effects from the virus. But the rising trend can be seen across all four regions. NAHB also launched a new multifamily survey last week. Multifamily builders and developers are encouraged to complete this weekly survey to report how COVID-19 is impacting their business. NAHB Senior Economist Paul Emrath provides further analysis of the single-family survey, including geographical breakdowns, in this Eye on Housing blog post.