Coronavirus pandemic isn’t preventing renters from moving: survey

It’s not be the best time to start looking for a new rental apartment amid mounting concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

But for many apartment hunters who were already mid-search when the pandemic hit, the coronavirus hasn’t scared them away from finishing their search or moving. Of renters who were already looking for an apartment before the pandemic, a significant number are planning on moving forward with their apartment search, according to a survey of a 6,000 renters from March 18 to 20 by RENTCafé, a Santa Barbara-based apartment listing website. 

“I was surprised by the fact that there seemed to be more mobility indicated,” said Doug Ressler, senior research officer at Yardi Matrix, a Santa Barbara-based real estate software company that owns RENTCafé.

“Do you still plan to move given the COVID-19 Pandemic?” asked RENTCafé to 6,000 apartment hunters. Graphic by: RENTCafé

Some 56% of those surveyed said finding an apartment was still a priority, and 60% of respondents said they were not interested in postponing their move-out date. One fifth said they worried about their current lease expiring and having to move regardless. 

A small number said they would stay put due to the coronavirus — only 17% said they decided to stay at their current residence, while 8% said they would postpone moving. 

Lingering concerns

But renters could soon become more stationary, said Ressler. While a majority, 45%, said they had no particular fears about moving at this time, some still had reservations: about one in five renters said they fear it is no longer safe to move right now. 

“The CDC [Center for Disease Control], if you look at all the briefings, they recommend you not be in [large] groups… if you’re moving your housing that’s hard to do,” said Ressler.

Increased financial fears also play a role, though not as much as they do for potential homebuyers. Some 13% were worried about finances and paying rent, and 28% said they are considering a cheaper apartment than they originally planned.

“Many people thought they had a job, but things have changed dramatically just in the last two weeks that have made people rethink whether they want to move,” said Ressler.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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