Realtors landed $3.9 billion in loans from pandemic relief loans, a boost made softer by the recent hot streak in the housing market.
Entities in the industry have secured more than 300,000 loans in total through the Paycheck Protection Program, NBC News reported. The outlet compiled the numbers by looking at real estate entities employing only one person through data from the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which publicly oversees relief spending.
In terms of forgiveness, real estate agents behaved similarly to other American industries. About $3.1 billion in funds were canceled, 83% of loans and 84% of the total dollar amount. For the entire $789 billion program, 80% of the loans and 84% of the total dollar amount have been cancelled.
As sectors like hospitality and retail have buckled under the pressure of the pandemic, residential real estate has rapidly exploded. After an uncertain first few weeks full of screenings and canceled contracts, prices – and therefore commissions – soared.
Sales were up 53% from April 2020 to year-end and 40% since the start of 2020, NBC News reported. Total commissions nationwide were $76.2 billion in 2019, $85.9 billion in 2020, and $98.8 billion in 2021.
The PPP aimed for loans to be canceled if certain rules were met, such as spending 60% of the loans on payroll or spending a certain amount on qualifying expenses. That way it worked more like a grant program and even though the real estate agents didn’t end up needing the help, they were eligible for it.
Erin Stackley, a senior political representative for the NAR, defended PPP loans and agent discounting, telling NBC News that “that’s what the SBA and Congress intended to do.”
Some agents, however, seemed to disagree with the optics of being forgiven on these loans and collecting commissions. Many declined to comment at length on their loans to NBC News. An agent who commented that she was repaying her loan.
“It ended up being a crazy year because I’m in Austin and I didn’t feel right asking for forgiveness,” Phyllis Patek told NBC News.
[NBC News] —Holden Walter-Warner