The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left brokers more pessimistic than ever about the present, though they are more upbeat about the future.

Confidence among real estate brokers in New York City has fallen to its lowest level on record, according to a new report, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and an array of related public policies.

The report, from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), is based on weekly surveys that asked real estate professionals to rank their confidence in the current market. It shows that for the first quarter of 2020, residential brokers ranked their confidence at 3.72 out of 10. That number represents the lowest confidence level REBNY has ever recorded, and is a 46 percent decrease over confidence levels during the fourth quarter of 2019.

In a statement Thursday, REBNY said that “the sharp decline in industry confidence is directly attributable to the impact of the pandemic.”

James Whelan

“With New York City as the national epicenter of this global public health crisis, it’s no surprise that, along with everyone else confronting the current humanitarian crisis, our industry is deeply shaken,” REBNY President James Whelan added in the statement.

The report also showed that confidence among commercial brokers fell to an all-time low of 1.89 out of 10 after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order for New York state last month. Overall for the quarter, average confidence among commercial brokers was 3.23 out of 10 — which is still slightly lower than among residential brokers.

A commercial broker is quoted in the REBNY report as saying that “COVID-19 has crushed commercial real estate.”

The report comes as the pandemic continues to rage, particularly in New York. As of Thursday, New York City had more than 87,000 cases of coronavirus and 5,000 deaths. Neighboring communities have also seen tens of thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths each.

New York leaders have responded by ordering people to stay in their homes. The real estate industry has been particularly hard hit by the isolation mandates, and last week officials said home showings could only be conducted virtually.

Despite the dire outlook, however, REBNY’s report did have some positive information: When asked about their six month forecasts, New York brokers ranked their confidence at 4.38 out of 10.

Whelan also ultimately expressed optimism about the future.

“REBNY remains confident that the hardworking men and women of our industry, and all New Yorkers, will weather this storm together,” he said in his statement, “but we will need strong policies at the City, State and federal levels to get our economy back into shape and working for all those impacted by this unprecedented crisis.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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