As COVID-19 was hitting Texas in March, the residential real estate market was on the decline, and Brockway Realty co-owner James Brockway was worried.

The housing market has since recovered from the pandemic, but it took a sharp decline at its onset, he said.

“[COVID-19] took a big dent out of our business,” Brockway said.

Luckily, help from the federal government became available.

Like thousands of other businesses in League City and nearby communities including Pearland, Clear Lake and Friendswood, Brockway applied for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans to small businesses across the county.

After initially being told he could not apply for the PPP, Brockway reached out to HomeTown Bank, which told him he was eligible. Brockway applied in late March, and eight weeks later, he was awarded a $35,000 forgivable loan, he said.

The money covered Brockway and his wife and co-owner, Penny, for eight weeks, and it came at the right time, considering the first quarter of 2020 was “awful” for real estate, he said.

“We started getting really nervous. Having that [PPP] was a very psychological boost even though in the whole scheme of running a business it wasn’t a big pile of money,” Brockway said. “It was a comfort, really.”

About 11 agents work under Brockway Realty, but they are contractors, not employees, so the PPP loan did not cover them, he said.

While many other businesses are struggling despite help from the PPP, Brockway said real estate is rebounding. There is a pent-up demand for residential real estate, and the market is returning to normal, giving him peace of mind, Brockway said.

“I believe that we’re going to continue the boom in the economy and residential sales,” he said. “The fundamentals are still there.”

However, commercial real estate is expected to take a big hit with restaurants closing and offices underutilized due to residents working from home, Brockway said.

"There's gonna be a big change," he said. "It’s already happening.”

Brockway said he knows he is not out of the woods yet. If another round of PPP loans becomes available, he will apply, he said. Like in gambling, it helps to run a business without using "scared money," and PPP loans took that concern away, Brockway said.