Estate agents across the country have received nearly $4 billion in taxpayer-funded Covid relief – some to help pay as little as an employee – even as property sales and commissions have soared during the pandemic .

NBC News reports that officers did nothing wrong when they applied for – and received – the $3.9 billion handed out by the government’s Paycheck Protection Program designed to help pay employees and other eligible expenses, and the vast majority of loans have already been canceled because agents played by the rules.

In total, the federal government has approved 300,000 loans to real estate companies claiming a single employee, representing $3.9 billion in loans backed by the Small Business Administration, according to data from the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) of the government, which oversees pandemic relief spending.

The report says 146 companies received more than $90,000 each, but the average awarded to a real estate company was $13,000.

And those working in booming markets were quick to offer alms: $3.6 million in loans went to agents in Beverly Hills; $4.3 million landed in El Paso, Texas; and $14.9 million landed in Charlotte, North Carolina.

So far, $3.1 billion of those home loans have been forgiven. Forgiveness requests for the remaining $800 million in loans have not been requested, have been denied, or have yet to be granted by the SBA.

The SBA says it is demanding repayment on about 12,200 loans, while 4,200 borrowers have appealed the agency’s denials. Another 215,000 loans have been withdrawn by the SBA for manual review, an SBA official told NBC.

At the start of the pandemic, real estate agents faced uncertainty as sellers nervous about the virus canceled open houses. But in early May 2020, it was clear from open house data nationwide that people were looking at homes again.

Home sales then jumped 53% from April 2020 to January 1, 2021, and house prices are now 40% higher than they were in January 2020, according to the report.

[NBC News] — Vince DiMiceli


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