Several indicators point to the quick recovery of the housing market from the pandemic slump during April and May, with home sales on an annualized rate in July now above the February level. Indicators gathered from a survey of REALTORS® that are reported in the August REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey also show that homebuying demand is strong, which means that the rebound in sales as a result from the end of shelter in place measures is likely to be sustained in the coming months.
Existing-home Sales Now Above Pre-pandemic Level
Existing-home sales rose a record 24.7% in July to an annualized rate of 5.86 million, which is higher than the pre-pandemic February level (5.76 million). On a year-to-date basis, existing-home sales (2.917 million) are just 5% below last year’s seven-month period level (3.062 million). The median existing-home sales price rose 8.5%, to $304,100, as demand strongly absorbed the supply coming into the market. As of the end of July, the level of inventory of homes for sale on the market was only equivalent to 3.1 months at 1.5 million homes, down 21.1% from one year ago.
63% of Properties Typically Sold in a Month
Properties were typically on the market for 22 days, a record low since NAR collected this survey-based information in 2011, according to the August REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey, a monthly survey of REALTORS® on their transactions during the month. One year ago, properties typically sold in 29 days. This is also faster than the median of 36 days in February prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Sixty-three percent of properties sold within one a month, compared to 51% one year ago and 47% in February.
In almost all states, except for North Dakota, Alaska, Louisiana, and Mississippi, properties typically sold within one month. In Nebraska and Rhode Island, REALTORS® reported that properties typically sold in 15 days. Properties also sold quickly in states such as Idaho (17 days), Utah (18 days), Indiana (18 days), Tennessee (19 days), Washington (19 days), Massachusetts (19 days), Arizona (20 days), Colorado (20 days).
Three Client Offers Per Property
Not only are properties selling quickly, but they are also getting more offers. On average, REALTORS® reported nearly three offers per sold property in July 2020, up from about two offers one year ago.
Four Clients Taken on a Home Tour
Demand has outpaced supply. On average, REALTORS® reported taking out four clients on a home tour, up from an average of two clients in February. Meanwhile, on average, REALTORS® reported listing only nearly two properties in July, although this is up from about one listing in April.
First-time Buyer Share Rose to 34%
Who’s buying? In part, first-time homebuyers, which made up 34% of homebuyers in July 2020, up from 32% one year ago. Mortgage rates are at ultra-low levels, with the 30-year fixed rate averaging 3.02% in July 2020. The strong price appreciation has increased the monthly mortgage payment to $1,049 on a home purchased at the median sales price of $307,800 and financed with a 20% down payment loans, but this is just a little higher than the median rent of $1, 035. Concerns about safety and social distancing may also be increasing the demand for homes.
REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index Shows Strong Demand
Compared to one year ago, about 4,000 REALTORS® reported that buyer traffic was broadly “strong.” The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index hit 71 in July, about the same level in February (72), after the index fell to below 50 in March and April.1 The housing market recovery has been relatively swift compared to the pace of recovery during the Great Recession when the Buyer Traffic Index stayed at below 50 from 2008 through 2011. Meanwhile, supply is broadly “weaker” compared to one year ago, with the REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index trending below 50.
Respondents from all states reported that market conditions were broadly stable or strong, except in North Dakota which continues to be impacted by the drop in crude oil prices.
1 The index measures homebuying activity in the reference month (July) compared to one year ago. An index above 50 more respondents reported that home searching activity rose compared to one year ago than the number of respondents who reported a decline.