Apartment Searches Fall as Coronavirus Takes the Lead on Google Trends

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Whether it’s the warmer weather or the end of hibernation, people have demonstrated a strong interest in apartments for rent during this time of year. The period starting with spring and going into summer is referred to as “the renting season” in the industry.  But COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is changing the seasonal trends, forcing people into isolation, and drastically shifting renters’ priorities.

To get a clear image of this sudden change in renters’ behavior, we looked at Google Trends as well as traffic behavior on our website since the Coronavirus outbreak.

Search traffic dropped by 25% in one week

Looking at the traffic on RentCafe.com, the number of sessions decreased by approximately 25% in the week of March 11-17, compared to the previous week, a stark contrast to what a typical traffic evolution would be during this time of year. In the same week last year, traffic saw a decrease of about 4% from one week to another, which is much more stable behavior under normal circumstances.

It’s no doubt that the pandemic has already put the brakes on apartment searches as renters are trying to figure things out. Other metrics on our site are confirming this atypical behavior. The overall traffic on the site decreased by about 22%, paid advertising traffic dropped by 28%, the rent affordability calculator saw a 49% drop in users, and 48% fewer renters are searching for apartment utility information on our site. Not only has the traffic decreased sharply in the last week, but the last of couple days are showing the most abrupt changes.

So, if people are not looking for apartments for rent during the renting season, what are they looking at?

Google Trends show a sharp switch to home, health and work priorities

Having to stay within our homes implies adapting all our daily activities to one place. During this time, home is not just a place you go to once your day is done to rest after a long day. It has turned into your workspace, your safe space, and your only dining location. But given most of us are not used to this, the only way to figure out how to turn our residence into all these things is to research.

This past week, terms like “home office setup”, “home workout” and “home disinfection” have become extremely popular overnight. Being forced to stay inside, we must shift our priorities to what we can do from, for and in our homes to work, eat and stay safe.

Therefore, searches such as “apartments for rent”, “apartments near me”, and simply “apartments” have dropped as other things took their place on everyone’s priority list. While where we live is no doubt extremely important, for the time being, it is essential that we adjust to the current situation and focus on things that have an impact on our immediate future.

So, during these tough times, let’s remember the times we wished for more time at home, and focus on staying safe, and taking care of ourselves and our homes.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RentCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.


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Sanziana Bona is a content marketing writer for Yardi Corom, a cloud-based software solution designed for commercial tenants and corporate occupiers and Yardi Kube, an all-in-one coworking management platform. She covers many commercial real estate related topics including FASB/IFRS compliance, lease accounting, coworking and flexile spaces, and more. You can connect with Sanziana via email.

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