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Despite impacts of COVID, the real-estate/housing sector contributed nearly $52 billion to Virginia’s economy in 2020 and supported more than 325,000 jobs with a total income of nearly $16 billion statewide, according to new data from the Virginia Realtors trade group and George Mason University.

This economic impact accounts for the effects of transactions related to buying and selling homes, building new homes, refinancing mortgages, renovating and remodeling homes, and managing and maintaining residential properties in 2020.

“One of the key reasons residential real estate is so important to the economy is because it touches so many other sectors of the economy. But the housing sector is also unique because it is an important economic driver across all regions of the state,” Virginia Realtors chief economist Lisa Sturtevant said.

Despite the initial jolt of the COVID crisis and resulting government lockdowns in the spring of 2020, the construction and real-estate industries started moving forward – often at warp speed – by that summer. The study, conducted by the Center for Regional Analysis at Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government, noted that many sectors of the housing industry were able to pivot quickly in the pandemic era.

“Government officials recognized that home builders are essential businesses, and thus were allowed to continue operations,” they noted.

“Housing professionals who support and manage the transaction side of housing, including Realtors, were remarkable in adapting new practices to accommodate a wide and changing range of operating restrictions. Home tours became ‘virtual’ through high-quality videos or live curated showings using video camera technology and the dogged determination of professional Realtors. Mortgage brokers and companies transitioned in a manner of weeks to all-electronic and limited-touch documentation. Title companies created a range of options for closing that met regulatory requirements and accommodated the preferences of home-buyers.”

Housing-related activities in Virginia expanded state and local tax revenue by more than $2 billion in 2020, not counting property taxes on existing homes, analysts noted.