Real estate agent and two clients looking at computer at a table

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With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, consumers are eager to return to business and leisure activities, such as visiting retail stores, traveling, and touring houses listed for sale, a survey by research group Engagious, in conjunction with Sports & Leisure Research Group and ROKK Solutions, finds.

The survey, dubbed the Back-to-Normal Barometer, queried approximately 500 consumers on May 19 about their readiness to engage in a wide variety of activities. The National Association of REALTORS® began participating in the barometer as a sponsor in May 2020. Since that time, average consumer interest in participating in all activities surveyed has risen from 54% to 86%. Interest in real estate-related activities has remained relatively stable during that same period, with interest in attending an open house and touring a home listed for sale never falling below 70%. Interest in both activities reached a 12-month high in May.

However, the survey’s overall “confidence barometer” has remained essentially flat, falling by one percentage point year-over-year in May to 31%. The confidence barometer measures the degree of optimism that consumers are expressing through their savings and spending activities—that is, the degree to which they are actually participating in activities.

What this means, says Jon Last, president of the Sports & Leisure Research Group, is that there is a disconnect between consumer behavior and attitudes, some of which can be contributed to consumers’ uncertainty about how to behave in public now that COVID-19 vaccination rates are rising and restrictions are easing.

“The goalposts keep moving,” says Last. “There are inconsistent mask guidelines across the country. Emotionally, there’s still a long way to go.”

Here are a few tips to help make clients feel more comfortable:

  1. Ground rules. People are confused about how to get back to normal activities, so set ground rules with clients in advance to ensure they’re comfortable, whether you’re showing a property or going out for lunch to celebrate a successful offer.
  2. Back to Reality. With more than 90% of survey respondents saying they’ve either attended an open house or are ready to go, some agents may cut back on creating virtual tours. But they remain a great way to capture the attention of online home shoppers.
  3. Flexibility. If office workers get their way, they’ll be spending more time working from home, even after the pandemic. That might just make it easier for you to find pockets of time to show properties during normal business hours. There might be free weekends in your future.