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A recent study by Apartment List found that a significant share of Americans – three in 10 at last count – haven’t been able to make their housing payment on time amid the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. With states starting to reopen and mortgage rates hovering near all-time lows, however, some feel the worst may be over. But one expert warns that the road to recovery might be longer than expected.

Chris Salviati, housing economist for Apartment List and co-author of the study, pointed out that 37% of renters were worried that they would face eviction in the next six months, while 26% of homeowners worried about foreclosure.

“It’s certainly the case that the actual number of evictions that take place are nowhere near that 37% of renters or 26% of homeowners,” Salviati told MPA. “These numbers do seem pretty troubling to me, though. How many of these folks will actually find themselves in that situation is obviously a different question. But it speaks to the severe hardship that a lot of these folks are finding themselves in right now financially, and the fact that it’s likely something that’s going to be ongoing for a lot of these folks. It’s not going to be, ‘These shelter-in-place orders lift and everything gets back to normal.’ I do think the recovery here is going to be more protracted than what people maybe hoped or expected at the beginning of all this.”

The broader economic impacts of the pandemic could shift the focus of prospective home buyers, causing them to either downsize or delay buying altogether, Salviati said.

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