The latest COVID-19 variant is prompting a wave of new infections—more than 1 million daily cases were reported on Monday alone. Omicron is also the most contagious variant yet. But housing analysts don’t believe omicron will hamper the housing market and deter buyers and sellers—at least it doesn’t done that so far, observers say.
Housing analysts acknowledge they were concerned as the new strain reached the U.S. in November and then saw a dip in new listings in December 2021, realtor.com® says. But George Ratiu, manager of economic research at realtor.com®, says he sees those events as a coincidence that reinforced the seasonal trend of slower sales.
“We are not through it yet, but so far, this [variant of the] virus seems to be a lot more contagious, but also a lot less negatively impactful in terms of sickness and death,” Ratiu says. “The GDP and economy have survived fairly well. We’re seeing housing weather the variant so far. Retail sales, consumer confidence, and other indicators show guarded optimism in the road ahead.”
As realtor.com® reports, many housing experts believe omicron to be “more of a blip than a bomb” for this year’s real estate forecast.
Americans’ desire for real estate appears to still be strong. Even as infection rates rise, some home sellers say they’ve waited long enough—in some cases, nearly two years now—and are proceeding with their plans.
“We’ve felt paralyzed by the pandemic,” Meg Rooney, 63, of Fairfield, Conn., told realtor.com®. She and her husband have been putting off a retirement move to Maine because of the pandemic. “The time didn’t feel right in the middle of the crisis. But I think omicron will be the last surge, and our real estate agent says people are ready to tour and buy despite this current uptick in cases. So we’ll finally put our house on the market.”
Omicron isn’t scaring off home buyers either.
“I will be hitting the open houses hard this month,” Alison Levine, an aspiring home buyer with young children, told realtor.com®. “I know how high the infection rates are. But the pandemic has also shown me that our apartment is too small for remote learning plus working from home—and I need a backyard.”
Indeed, Ratiu says some Americans have outgrown their homes and are eager to take advantage of still-low mortgage rates, which are expected to rise over the coming months. “Younger parents may be having a first or second child and need a bigger house, or a different school district,” Ratiu says. “I see a bright future for the suburbs in 2022.”