How Realtors are giving back during the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter communities across the country, real estate agents and their brokerages have responded with unprecedented volunteerism and donations, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

The Community Aid and Real Estate Report – the CARE Report – shows that the median annual value of Realtor associations’ donations to communities doubled from $5,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2020.

A whopping 92% of broker-owners made pandemic-related donations in 2020, up from 81% in 2018. The median amount broker-owners donated annually was $2,000.

Food banks were one of the top recipients of Realtor generosity — 36% of brokers and their firms donated nonperishables or cash to food banks during the pandemic, 27% donated masks and protective gear, 16% donated school meals to children and 9% were able to provide stable and secure housing to those in need.

In addition to monetary donations, Realtors responded to the pandemic by making food deliveries to the elderly and frontline workers, conducting wellness checks and visits to senior neighbors and offering virtual companionship to those isolated or quarantined alone.

Some 67% survey respondents polled by NAR said they volunteered in their communities on a monthly basis as compared to 66% in 2018, the last time the study was conducted, and 85% said that community involvement was an important part of their business plan.  Among broker-owners, 79% volunteered their time on a monthly basis, versus 77% in 2018.

“Realtors are in the business of helping people and serving their communities, and we’ve seen countless examples of this play out nationwide during this pandemic,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler in a press release. “To hear that my colleagues in the real estate industry have pitched in to an even greater degree than usual is indeed heartwarming, but it is also not surprising. Historically, Realtors have a proven track record of donating time, money and energy toward various charities and volunteer efforts.”

Nearly 70% of association executives or multiple listing service staff also said they volunteered monthly, 93% of them made personal donations and 91% conducted a fundraiser for their community in 2020, an increase from 89% in 2018.

Philanthropic efforts among brokerages were also up this year: 68% percent of members reported that their firm urged employees to volunteer, up from 64% in 2018.

“Since I entered this industry, I always valued giving back to the community and the ideal of paying it forward,” said Oppler, whose 2021 plan includes volunteerism and community services initiatives. “I have no doubt that America’s 1.4 million Realtors will continue to help our neighbors and lend assistance wherever possible as we collectively work to move beyond COVID-19 in the coming months.”

Are condos the new bargain property?

Single-family home sales have been driving the U.S. housing market of late, as homebuyers continue to leave populated cities behind and instead opt for space and privacy in the suburbs and rural areas.

But where does that leave the condo market?

According to a new report from Redfin, the desire for privacy is keeping a lid on condo prices, making that segment somewhat of a sleeper in terms of value.

The typical single-family home that sold in the U.S. this year was purchased for an average of 17.3% more ($58,000) than the typical condo. That’s up from 15.4% last year and represents the largest premium since at least 2013, when Redfin began recording this data.

 Sales data backs the trend — the median sale price of single-family homes surged 15.5% year over year in October, outpacing the condo market’s 9.9% growth.

Condos are also taking longer to sell—the typical condo spent 36 days on the market last month, compared with 27 days for the typical single-family home.

And less than a quarter (22.8%) of condos sold for more than their listing price, compared with 36.6% of single-family homes.

But condos have been catching up. According to Redfin, condo sales rose 22.7% in October from a year earlier, following a 50% plunge in the spring. That’s on par with the 23.3% growth in sales of single-family homes last month.

“Condos sales are rebounding because buyers are finding great deals,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather in the report. “Families are fleeing cities in search of more space in the suburbs, which has presented an opportunity for millennials who are looking to become homeowners but don’t need extra bedrooms or a backyard.”

But extra space and a backyard come with a cost. The premium for an unattached home was the highest in Fort Lauderdale, where single-family homes sold for an average of 38.3% more than condos in October.

In Atlanta, single-family homes sold for an average of 21.6% more than condos in October, a premium of $60,441.

In the Seattle metro, where single-family homes are selling for a 17.9% premium, condos are taking several months to sell rather than the usual couple of weeks, according to local Redfin real estate agent Forrest Moody.

“Before the pandemic, it was challenging to find a condo in Seattle for less than $500,000, but now there are plenty selling for under $400,000,” Moody said in the report. “The people who are buying condos now are the people who couldn’t afford to buy one a couple of years ago because prices were so high,” he said. “I recently sold a condo that was within walking distance of Amazon’s headquarters for $510,000. Condos in that building normally go for $550,000 and up.”