This is the first in a new HW+ series examining the distinctive challenges faced in state-level housing markets.
On March 19, California became the first state to issue a stay-at-home edict to halt the spread of COVID-19. While this resulted in shutting down much of the local economy, California’s housing and mortgage markets continued to operate, albeit within tighter parameters.
The most recent statewide housing statistics were issued on April 16 by the California Association of Realtors, covering the previous month just as the new COVID-19 era began to take root. CAR reported existing single-family home sales in March totaled 373,070, an 11.5% drop from February – the first double-digit month-over-month decline in nine years and the largest in nearly 13 years. The year-over-year 6.1% decline in sales was the first in nine months and the largest since March 2019.
CAR Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young observed that the majority of closed sales were negotiated during January and February, before the pandemic rolled in.
“I think we’re going to see another significant drop in sales in April,” she said, noting the March data did not include the historic job losses and economic mayhem that kicked off last month.