Furloughed Redfin Agents Are Gradually Returning

May 26, 2020

As more housing markets show signs of picking up in business, brokerages are bringing back agents who were furloughed during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The real estate brokerage Redfin announced late last week that about 350 of the 1,000 workers it furloughed in early April are returning.

The brokerage said that a “rapid rise” in demand for purchasing homes is allowing them to bring back employees. Pent-up demand and low mortgage rates are prompting homes to go under contract quickly. Forty-five percent of properties being bought in the seven days ending May 15 had been on the market for less than two weeks, the brokerage says.

Indeed, mortgage applications are showing an uptick in home buying activity. The number of mortgage applications for home purchases has risen for five consecutive weeks. Applications are now just 1.5% lower than a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s mortgage application index. The rebound has been apparent, considering purchase volume was down 35% annually just six weeks ago as the U.S. faced the pandemic.

Government purchase applications—including FHA, VA, and USDA loans—are 5% higher than they were a year ago, MBA reports.

“The strength of the recovery has been surprising,” Redfin wrote in its weekly update last week. Even as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread, “[home] buying demand seems to have been largely unaffected in the face of those headwinds.”