NAR Calls Sales Slowdown Temporary
April 29, 2020
Contract signings dropped in March as many housing markets paused as the coronavirus outbreak spread across the country.
The National Association of REALTORS®’ Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, dropped 20.8% in March compared to February. All four major regions of the U.S. saw a drop in contract activity last month.
Contract signings are down 16.3% compared to a year ago.
“The housing market is temporarily grappling with the coronavirus-induced shutdown, which pulled down new listing and new contracts,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “As consumers become more accustomed to social distancing protocols, and with the economy slowly and safely reopening, listings and buying activity will resume, especially given the record low mortgage rates.”
Yun acknowledges the typical spring buying season will be missed this year due to the pandemic. Further, a “bounce back later in the year” will likely be insufficient to make up for the loss of sales in the second quarter, he adds. Home sales are projected to decline 14% for the year.
Social distancing protocols due to the pandemic have caused the real estate industry to quickly adapt their businesses. Home buyers are still finding ways to proceed. Fifty-eight percent of real estate professionals report that buyers are using virtual tours, and 43% report buyers are taking advantage of e-closings, according to an NAR Flash Survey conducted of real estate professionals between April 19 and 20.
Also, home prices are staying firm. “Although the pandemic continues to be a major disruption in regards to the timing of home sales, home prices have been holding up well,” Yun says. “In fact, due to the ongoing housing shortage, home prices are likely to squeeze out a gain in 2020 to a new record high.”
Yun projects the national median home price to increase 1.3% for 2020. However, he cautions there will be many local market variations. Also, the upper end of the market will likely face a reduction in home prices.
Updated: October 23, 2020