Housing Activity Remains Strong Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak

The U.S. stock market and broader economy has started to decline reportedly amidst concerns that COVID-19, a new, contagious virus, has become an increasing concern across the United States. However, the February BuildFax Housing Health Report (BHHR) revealed that housing activity has continued to grow.

Single-family housing authorizations increased modestly year-over-year. Meanwhile, existing housing activity, which encompasses maintenance and remodeling—a subset of maintenance that includes renovations, additions, and alterations—grew substantially this month. This aligns with results from the latest jobs report, which showed a 3.25% uptick in residential building jobs over last month.

New and Existing Housing Supply

Continued increases across new and existing construction may help counterbalance the potential short-term economic recession spurred by COVID-19 concerns.

New and Existing Housing Supply Activity, February 2020

  • Single-family housing authorizations increased 0.24% year over year.
  • Existing housing maintenance volume increased 6.20% year over year.
  • Existing housing remodel volume increased 5.42% year over year. 

“The broader economy is experiencing a volatile month as the stock market and general population react to the implications of COVID-19,” said BuildFax Managing Director Jonathan Kanarek. “Meanwhile, housing activity remains nearly unchanged from its growth trajectory thus far. However, COVID-19 is rapidly unfolding in the U.S. and the housing market may eventually feel the weight of this outbreak. For instance, the virus may dampen spring homebuying season this year as prospective buyers could feel reluctant to attend open houses. Additionally, quarantines may lead to declines in construction work, the already strained U.S. housing supply may continue to tighten.”

Download the full report for a deep dive into how housing activity has reacted to early signs of a COVID-19 outbreak.