CoronavirusReal Estate

New listings and home sales drop in what would have been peak homebuying season

Pre-coronavirus, the market was doing well

At the end of February and the beginning of March, it was projected that the spring homebuying season would arrive early.

In fact, January 2020 was the strongest January for purchase mortgage applications in 11 years, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The beginning of March also showed that homebuyers were anxious to get moving into homebuying season, but that was before the coronavirus changed everything.

Although there were still homes being sold in early March, they were likely under contract in February, before COVID-19 forced most of the U.S. economy to shut down, Redfin said.

But towards the end of March, when stay-at-home orders were put into place and people were left unemployed, there was a 148% year-over-year increase in homes being delisted during the week ending March 29, coming to a total of 28,140 homes pulled off the market, according to Redfin.

Even though the coronavirus shutdowns occurred mid-month, home sales in March were still impacted, sinking 9.1% nationwide from February on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Redfin says this is the largest monthly decline on its record. The fall was 1.2% year over year in March – the first year over year decline in nine months.

By the last week of the month, they were down 11.5% from the same period a year earlier.

Nationally, active listings fell 13% year over year in March.

“The impacts of the coronavirus hit the economy hard in mid-March, as we have been reporting in our weekly data, but it’s good to step back and take an aggregated look at the market,” said Redfin Lead Economist Taylor Marr. “Real estate activities nearly ground to a halt in some parts of the country by the end of March, disrupted by shelter in place laws.”

“Right now, sellers need to decide if they’ll list their home for sale among all the economic uncertainty,” Marr continued. “On one hand, the number of homes for sale is down more than 20% in recent weeks, even more than the 13% drop we saw for the full month of March, and home prices have so far held better than anyone expected. On the other hand, jobless claims continue to pile up and it is getting increasingly difficult to get a mortgage, which could limit buyer demand. How the market shapes up through the rest of spring will depend heavily on unemployment and the availability of credit.”

The markets that saw the biggest home sale declines from a year ago were all in New York – Rochester had a 18.5% dip, New York sank 18.3% and Nassau County fell 17.3%.

Seasonally-adjusted new listings in March fell the most from a year earlier in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Missouri; and Tulsa, Oklahoma by 46.2%; 46.1%; and 42.7%, respectively.

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