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Home sales were off to a good start in Q1 of 2020 despite the advance of the coronavirus across the U.S., according to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report.

Home sales increased 2.7 percent YoY across the report’s 52 markets in March—the fourth consecutive month with YoY increases in U.S. home sales, a streak not seen since 2016. However, the spread of COVID-19 eventually slowed sales.

Inventory levels continued to constrict amid healthy buyer interest, helping to drive price increases. In March, inventory levels dropped 14.9 percent YoY. The median sales price was $265,000—7.7 percent higher than last year. And Days on Market was a record low of 54 for March.

“As expected, the strong market of January and February continued into March, setting up a very good first quarter. But then the coronavirus and the initial mitigation measures arrived, disrupting our industry along with everything else,” said Adam Contos, RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. CEO. “Conditions and restrictions vary throughout the country, so some areas continue to see new listings, pendings and closings, while other markets have slowed dramatically— especially where real estate was not deemed an essential service. It’s a fluid situation. We believe that interest in buying or selling remains high, and pent-up demand in many places should drive sales higher over time.”

“One takeaway that’s already clear is that real estate agents, using technology and adhering to social distancing guidelines, can lead consumers through the buying or selling process in a largely virtual way. In many respects, the expertise of a skilled agent has never been more important,” added Contos

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Of the 52 metro areas surveyed in March 2020, the overall average number of home sales was up 23.8 percent compared to February 2020, and up 2.7 percent compared to March 2019. Leading the year-over-year sales percentage increase were Los Angeles, Calif., at +15.6 percent Boise, Idaho at +15.2 percent, and Las Vegas, Nev., at +12.2 percent.

Median Sales Price
In March 2020, the median of all 52 metro median sales prices was $265,000, up 2.9 percent from February 2020 and up 7.7 percent from March 2019. Only one metro area, Billings, Mont., at -0.4 percent, saw a year-over-year decrease in median sales price. Seventeen metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Birmingham, Ala., at +19.8 percent, Cincinnati, Ohio at +14.3 percent, and Salt Lake City, Utah at +14.1 percent.

Days on Market
The average days on market for homes sold in March 2020 was 54, down five days from the average in February 2020, and down five days from the average in March 2019. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were San Francisco, Calif., at 25, and a two-way tie between Seattle, Wash. and Omaha, Neb., at 30. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, Maine at 128, Des Moines, Iowa at 112, and Hartford, Conn., at 94. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory
The number of homes for sale in March 2020 was up 1.1 percent from February 2020 and down 14.9 percent from March 2019. Based on the rate of home sales in March 2020, the months supply of inventory decreased to 2.7 compared to 3.0 in February 2020, and decreased compared to 3.2 in March 2019. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In March 2020, of the 52 metro areas surveyed, two metro areas reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest months supply of inventory were Manchester, N.H., at 1.2, and a six-way tie among Boise, Idaho, Washington D.C, Denver, Colo., Seattle, Wash., Omaha, Neb., and San Francisco, Calif., at 1.3.

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