Economists' Outlook

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Homebuyer Traffic Picked Up in February 2020 Amid Low Mortgage Rates, With Little Effect Yet from Coronavirus and Stock Market Decline

Home showings data from SentriLock®, LLC, a lockbox company, shows that homebuyer traffic increased in February 2020 compared to the prior month and one year ago.1

The Sentrilock® foot traffic index increased 19.1 points in February from the prior month and is up 25.1 points from one year ago. 

Home showings increased substantially in February as a result of current economic conditions. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage returned to a 3-year low as 3.45% was common throughout the month. The U.S. economy acquired 273,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.5%.

According to the Center for Disease Control data, the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. escalated in the second half of February so any effect on home buying has not shown up in the February foot traffic. The stock market decline and the spread of coronavirus were not the biggest news up until late February.

March is expected to show a decline based on a flash survey of Realtors® where 16% reported a decrease in homebuying interest due to the coronavirus.

Line graph: Diffusion Index of Sentrilock Foot Traffic
Bar chart: COVID-19 Cases in US by Date of Illness Onset January 12 to March 11
Line graph: FHLMC 30-year Fixed-rate Mortgages in the US

1 The number of showings reflects the number of properties viewed, the number of potential buyers viewing the property, and the number of views by a potential buyer on a property.  From home showings data in about 200 local markets, NAR calculates a foot traffic index which can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends one to two months into the future.

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