New home building, which only recently and belatedly caught fire, is already feeling the effect of the COVID-19 virus response. The National Association of Home Builder (NAHB) recently did a quick on-line survey of its members and 81 percent said they had noticed a slowdown in buyer traffic. The survey was conducted between March 18 and March 23. It was a small sample, 308 responses, but more than half came from single-family builders and more than two-thirds were from company owners or CEOs.
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. Forty-six percent of builders cited a major downturn in buyer traffic and 35 percent said there was a minor reduction. Other adverse impacts were on the supply of N95 respirator face masks, delays in plan reviews and building department inspections, problems with material and product supplies, and changes in how much they are willing to pay for a new home. Willingness of workers to report to construction sites was the least common problem on the list so far, although even that one was reported as having at least a minor negative impact on 42 percent of respondents' businesses.
While some states and local governments had invoked full or partial shutdowns of non-essential businesses or ordered reductions in on-premises workers by the time the survey closed, many areas are still operating at full capacity. It is worth noting that the California Association of Realtors ordered its members to stop all face-to-face sales activities to comply with the governor's self-isolation directive while the survey was underway. This, of course, includes property showings