Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

March 2020 Foot Traffic Report

Homebuyer traffic plummeted in March 2020 in the midst of a full-blown coronavirus pandemic that was declared a national emergency and result in stay-at-home orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. In conjunction with the “Quarantine Effect,” mortgage rates hit a record low while unemployment claims hit a record high and U.S. jobs significantly decreased amid a declining stock market.

  • Home viewings data from SentriLock®, LLC, a lockbox company, shows that homebuyer traffic substantially decreased in March 2020 compared to the prior month and one year ago.1
  • The Sentrilock® foot traffic index decreased 47.4 points in March from the prior month and is down 21.1 points from one year ago.
  • The March 2020 Sentrilock® foot traffic index of 13.5 points was near the index’s all-time low of 12.4 points back in October 2018.
  • Home viewings decreased considerably in March as a result of current economic conditions. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.29% for the week ending on March 5, 2020, which represents the lowest level ever recorded.
  • While there have been fewer viewings and lockbox openings, virtual viewings have been high and are therefore contributing to fewer physical visits.
  • The U.S. economy experienced a reduction of 701,000 jobs in March while the unemployment rate increased by 0.9 percentage points to 4.4% which is the largest over-the-month increase in this rate since January 1975 as an aftereffect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the drastic measures taken to contain the virus. More than 10 million filed for new unemployment benefits by the end of March 2020 with 6.6 million filing new claims in the week ending March 28 as effects from the novel coronavirus deteriorate the labor market.
  • The stock market declined in March as all three major indexes registered historical percentage losses as a result of the coronavirus and its impact on the global economy.

The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. trended upward in the second half of February and has skyrocket throughout March, effecting home buying as illustrated in March Foot traffic. According to the Center for Disease Control data, 186,101 U.S. cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) were reported by the last day of March.

Line graph: Diffusion Index of Sentrilock Foot Traffic March 2018 to March 2020
Bar chart: Cumulative Number of COVID-19 Cases in the United States January 12, 2020 to April 14, 2020
Line graph: Change in Total Non-farm Employment 2009 to 2020
Line graph: 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Average in the United States March 2020
Line graph: 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Average in the United States April 2019 to March 2020

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.