Fewer sellers, fewer buyers: The first full month of coronavirus stay-at-home orders weighed on April home sales, causing them to drop an average of 20.2 percent compared to a year ago, according to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report. Inventory in the report’s 53 markets similarly tumbled by 20.5 percent year-over-year, while the median sale price of $276,000 was up 9.3 percent.
Restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 turned what is traditionally the year’s fifth busiest month for home sales back to slumbering wintertime levels. Four markets —New York, Detroit, Miami and San Francisco—posted year-over-year sales declines of more than 40 percent. Just two markets—Minneapolis, Minn., and Billings, Mont.— reported an increase, while eight saw declines of less than 10 percent.
“April results were better than many expected, as consumers continued to buy and sell real estate in one of the most challenging months for housing in memory,” said Adam Contos, RE/MAX CEO. “This was a headwind like no other—yet we still saw activity across the country. Even in the markets that dropped 40 percent in sales, people wanted or needed to move, which says something about resiliency and the power of homeownership.”
Contos continued, “We believe the coronavirus and the measures to slow it pushed the spring selling season back a bit. But we believe buyer demand remains relatively strong despite the pandemic, and sellers who pulled their listings in March or April will hopefully come back into the market this summer. Others may start the process after being stuck in a home that no longer suits them. Both groups could help alleviate the inventory challenges we’ve faced for quite some time. Moving forward, agents who’ve adjusted their business strategies are positioned for success in the more virtual environment.”
Like March, April is a transition month toward peak home sales in the summer. In a typical year, the busiest month is often May or June, with July and August being close behind.
Days on Market dropped seven days to 46 year over year, setting a new low for April in the report’s 12-year history. By contrast, Months Supply of Inventory grew from 3.0 to 3.5.
The median sales price of $276,000 also was a report record for April.
Of the 53 metro areas surveyed in April 2020, the overall average number of home sales is down 13.7 percent compared to March 2020, and down 20.2 percent compared to April 2019. Only two metro areas, Billings, Mont., at +9.9 percent and Minneapolis, Minn., +3.6 percent, saw a year-over-year increase in closed transactions.
Median Sales Price – Median of 53 Metro Median Prices
In April 2020, the median of all 53 metro median sales prices was $276,000, up 4.2 percent from March 2020, and up 9.3 percent from April 2019. No metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in median sales price. Eighteen metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Manchester, N.H., at +20.0 percent, Augusta, Maine at +19.1 percent, and Philadelphia, Pa., at +16.9 percent.
Days on Market – Average of 53 Metro Areas
The average days on market for homes sold in April 2020 was 46, down eight days from the average in March 2020, and down seven days from the average in April 2019. The metro areas with the lowest days on market were Omaha, Neb., at 19, Seattle, Wash., at 20, and San Francisco, Calif., at 21. The highest days on market averages were in Des Moines, Ind., at 106, Augusta, Maine at 95, and New York, N.Y., at 88. 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 – Average of 53 Metro Areas
The number of homes for sale in April 2020 was down 2.2 percent from March 2020 and down 18.2 percent from April 2019. Based on the rate of home sales in April 2020, the Months Supply of Inventory increased to 3.5 compared to 2.9 in March 2020, and increased compared to 3.0 in April 2019. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In April 2020, of the 53 metro areas surveyed, five 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 Albuquerque, N.M., at 1.2, Omaha, Neb., at 1.3, and Manchester, N.H., at 1.4.
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