These past few weeks have raised new worries and posed new challenges for everyone, including renters. But for many who are in-between homes, the greatest concern remains finding one.
Between March 25th and 27th, RENTCafé ran a survey to find out how renters deal with moving during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. In light of recent stay-at-home directives imposed throughout the nation and a rising number of confirmed cases, a majority of about 7,000 people surveyed on rentcafe.com appear to hold on tight to their original moving plans. Most respondents expressed their intent to go on with finding a new rental and moving, and are not altering their rental searches or preferences. But a sense of added caution does exist, as the survey also revealed a rise in the demand for virtual property tours and a slight increase in those looking for a cheaper apartment.
This follows a survey we ran a week prior, before several U.S. states issued stay-at-home orders, when the majority of respondents proved surprisingly optimistic, with more than half still planning on moving into a new apartment during the pandemic and almost half of them reporting no concerns in particular about the situation. This second survey reinforces the original findings that renters remain optimistic and the rental market endures.
After a week of tumultuous pandemic news, no major shift in renter’s attitude toward moving appears to have taken place. When we ran our survey a week prior, 56% of respondents said they would move as soon as they found an apartment. The sentiment remained pretty much the same among 52% of those looking for a rental. The percentages were more or less the same for those who haven’t decided yet (17%), and those who are still considering whether they should renew their current lease (4%), both experiencing a 1% increase in the number of respondents.
Although the same percentage of renters said they will continue renting where they do now (17%), 2% more renters decided to put their apartment search on hold for a few weeks, making up 10% of respondents.
When asked about their main concern regarding moving at a time like this, there was a 6% rise among those wondering whether it’s safe to make a move now or not (24%). The percentage of those who are considering renewing their current lease reached 6% following a 1% increase. Although there was a 3% drop among those with no concerns regarding moving out, they still make up the largest share of respondents: 42%.
A 1% drop was registered among those concerned about their lease expiring (17%), as well as a 1% drop among those worried about being able to pay their rent under these circumstances (12%).
If in the first round of the survey a whopping 60% said they won’t postpone their move, the second batch of results indicated a 4% drop. The percentage of those able and willing to wait it out until they feel safe grew by 3% reaching 16%. Following a 2% rise, 11% of respondents now plan to postpone moving until the situation settles down.
There were no significant changes when it comes to current renting preferences compared to the ones they had before the outbreak. Almost half of the respondents reported no changes, while the percentage of renters who plan to pay more attention to how clean a place is before renting remained constant at 15%. Compared to the previous survey, there was a 1% increase in the number of respondents who are looking for something cheaper (29%).
The spread of a highly contagious virus didn’t necessarily alter willingness to share a rental with roommates as opinions continue to be almost equally divided.
There was a 5% drop among those who said that the pandemic did not affect the way they choose a rental (from 51% to 46%).
However, there are those who are looking for alternative ways to pick their next rental home. One of the biggest bumps since the first survey, with a 6% increase, was the share of respondents who now rely on online pictures or virtual tours to make their decision, and they now make up almost a quarter of apartment seekers (23%).
The share of people who are putting their entire selection process on hold was 8% during both rounds of the survey. At the same time, 10% plan to pick whatever is closer to speed up the moving process following a 2% decrease since the initial survey.
Even though there are slightly fewer renters who plan on reducing the number of properties they will visit (8%), the number of respondents who plan on avoiding visiting properties altogether increased by 1%, reaching 5%.
Much like two weeks ago, the renters keep a positive attitude towards moving under these circumstances. Whether they will be able to carry on or postpone their plans remains to be seen.