In a survey conducted by NAHB online in recent days, 81 percent of respondents said the coronavirus has had an adverse effect on traffic of prospective buyers. The survey, which was publicized in various internal NAHB communications and social media, collected 308 responses between March 18 and March 23. The largest share of responses (51 percent) came from single-family home builders. Two-thirds of the respondents were the owner, president or CEO of their companies.
The survey listed seven possible impacts of the coronavirus and asked if each has so far had a major, minor, or no adverse effect on respondents’ businesses. The most widespread problem the virus has been causing in the industry, by a substantial margin, is reducing traffic of prospective buyers. A total of 46 percent reported virus-induced traffic reduction to a major extent, and another 35 percent to a minor extent. Five of the items were clustered in a group having adverse effect (either to a major or minor extent) on 50 to 57 percent of respondents’ businesses: the supply of N95 respirator face masks, how long it takes to obtain a plan review for a typical single-family home, supply of building products & materials, amount buyers are willing to pay for a new home, and how long it takes to obtain an inspection from the local building department. Willingness of workers to report to construction sites was the least common problem on the list so far, although even that one has had at least a minor negative impact on 42 percent of respondents’ businesses.
One caveat to keep in mind is that the above results are based on an online survey. So the survey was not sent to a representative sample of NAHB members, and was not subject to other quality control measures NAHB’s Economics and Housing Policy Group typically employs. Many of the usual procedures were foregone in this case, in the interest of obtaining timely results in what has been (to say the least) a rapidly changing environment.