In March, when the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic was sinking in, many government officials and business leaders, particularly REALTORS®, struggled with how to deal with the situation. Tough choices were made to shut down significant portions of the economy that directly impacted tens of millions of Americans.
Virginia REALTORS® partnered with the Governor’s office, the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, and the Department of Health in the initial days of the pandemic to create professional best practices that allowed real estate to continue in Virginia as an essential business. While other states severely restricted or outright prohibited the business of real estate, Virginia cautiously permitted REALTORS® to continue working for their clients. From CDC cleaning guidelines to virtual showings and more remote interaction, REALTORS® adjusted to the circumstances like they always do.
The Virginia REALTORS® legal and marketing teams provided members detailed information that allowed them to work safely in an ever-evolving climate. The government relations and economic teams provided feedback to government officials on the state of the real estate market. Health officials warned that if the real estate industry ignored safety guidelines, particularly for activities such as in-person showings, the state could add more restrictive measures.
“Fortunately, REALTORS® upheld our end of the bargain and worked with clients in a responsible manner,” said Kemper Funkhouser, Virginia REALTORS® 2020 President. “Because our members worked diligently to protect our clients and our communities, the real estate industry continued to thrive in Virginia, despite the obstacles.”
Some eight months into the pandemic, the impact of keeping real estate in the Commonwealth is undeniable. Through October 31st there have been 113,241 home sales, which is up 4.9% over the same point last year. A typical home sale in Virginia generates $96,722 in economic activity, including direct and indirect spending. These real estate transactions totaled $43.9 billion in sales volume, up 13.1% over last year.
Real estate activity has also provided vital funding to government coffers during uncertain economic times. The state budget line item that is driven by real estate transaction taxes has over-performed estimates significantly throughout 2020. In October alone, the collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts–mainly recordation tax collections–were $59.9 million, compared with $42.3 million in October of last year, an increase of 41.5 percent. On a year-to-date basis, collections are up 37.3 percent, ahead of the annual forecast of a 12.6 percent decline.
A press release from the Governor’s office noted “growth in sales and use taxes and recordation tax collections offset expected decline in payroll withholding.”
Because Virginia REALTORS® stepped up to the occasion, the real estate industry continued to play a leading role in Virginia’s economic success story.