PPP Loans Gave Critical Assistance to REALTORS
Recent media reports have painted a false narrative about real estate professionals who took out SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the articles chose to focus on outliers and did not tell the story of the average REALTOR®. Congress and the Small Business Administration intended PPP loans to function as bridge loans, keeping businesses open, employees on payroll, and bills paid at a time when many businesses were forced to pause their activities and faced uncertainty as to when they could reopen and whether customers would return. The real estate industry was no different. Early in the pandemic, open houses stopped and many clients, facing uncertainty about their financial future, chose to wait to purchase or sell a home. PPP loans provided a temporary source of income for real estate professionals, including independent contractors and the self-employed. NAR worked closely with Congress and the SBA to ensure that PPP loans were accessible for small businesses, independent contractors, and the self-employed, and that the forgiveness process was streamlined and easy to understand. In 2020, 80% of real estate firms had a single office, typically employing three full –time real estate licensees; 86% percent of firms were independent, non-franchised companies. The median salary of a REALTOR® was $43,300 in 2020. For many of these members, even if they went on to achieve success later, early 2020 presented a potential end of their career in real estate when faced with the prospect of multiple months without any income. PPP loans helped many of them to stay in business, to keep their employees paid, and ultimately to return to work when the situation allowed.