Here's how the $2 trillion stimulus package can help real estate agents at a time when the coronavirus is bringing the housing market to a halt

Stimulus Bill

A $2 trillion economic stimulus package has been signed into law as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The stimulus will inject a flood of cash into the economy, provide support for struggling businesses and individuals, and expand unemployment benefits. This last plank is key for the real-estate industry, as self-employed and contract workers will be able to file for unemployment benefits for the first time, and the vast majority of real-estate agents are independent contractors.
And not only will they be able to claim unemployment but, as Business Insider's Katie Warren reported, the package will also allow people to claim an extra $600 per week for up to four months. This will surely be welcomed by the many agents bracing for a decrease in business and pay as the coronavirus continues to spread and shelter-in-place mandates are issued across the US.

Heading into March, the US housing market was showing the kind of green shoots appropriate for the start of spring. But home-buyer interest suddenly cooled as the pandemic spread. A flash survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors from March 16 to March 17 showed that 48% of the 72,734 real estate agents surveyed saw a dip in buyer interest due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"As things with the virus are getting worse, people are getting more conservative," Neil Davidowitz, the president of Orsid, a real estate management company, told The New York Times.

Before legislators wrote the stimulus package, industry leaders had asked the government to consider real estate professionals in financial relief efforts.

There are over 2 million real estate agents in the US, according to HomeLight. In 2018, the median gross income of NAR members, which is made up of over 1.3 million industry professionals, was $41,800. As Inman reported, Robert Reffkin, the founder and CEO of Compass, wrote a letter to Congress urging protection for real estate agents in the relief package. Agents, Reffkin explained, are directly impacted by shelter-in-place orders, thus preventing them from carrying out business as usual.

In addition to helping workers, the package will provide more than $300 billion in loans for small businesses, which stands to help smaller brokerages trying to stay afloat during the pandemic.

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