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Home inventory falls amid coronavirus outbreak

The amount of homes listed for sale in the U.S. during March fell by around 15.7% year-over-year, according to new data from realtor.com that illustrates the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, the market isn’t entirely unhealthy, as the national median listing price was up 3.8% to $320,000 during the month. And those homes that were listed for sale spent fewer days on the market than in previous months.

A lot of home buying activity has been subdued or put off due to the coronavirus, which has forced the government to put mass restrictions in place across the U.S. to try and limit its spread.

Price growth did show some deceleration during the weeks ending March 21 and March 28 compared to the first two weeks of the month, realtor.com notes. The U.S. listing price over those last weeks increased at a slower clip of 3.3% and 2.5% annually, which is the slowest pace of growth in realtor.com’s records, dating back to 2013.

Before the pandemic, the nation was already facing tight inventories of homes for sale. In February, the number of homes on the market had dropped 15.3% annually. However, the weeks ending March 21 and 28, respectively, saw inventories decline at a slightly slower pace of 15.2% each on a year-over-year basis.

Homes sold a median of 60 days in March across the U.S. — four days faster than a year ago, realtor.com reported.

"The U.S. housing market had a good start to the year,” said Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s chief economist. “Despite still-limited homes for sale, buyers were buying and builders were building. The pandemic and virus-fighting measures appear to be disrupting that initial momentum as both buyers and sellers adopt a more cautious posture."

Inventory declines in March were most pronounced in metros like Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (down 42.2%); Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. (down 36.2%); San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (down 33.4%). The only metro realtor.com tracked that saw inventory increase annually in March was Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis., up 3.6% from a year ago.

“Consistent with the first two months of 2020, March saw homes selling more quickly than last year as an early home buying season began in the U.S.,” realtor.com reports. Properties sold the most quickly in March—a median of 29 days or less--in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.; and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va.

Of the 50 largest metros tracked, realtor.com reported that 45 markets continued to post year-over-year gains in median list prices. The highest annual gains were recorded in Pittsburgh (up 17.9% annually); Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (up 14%); and Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark. (up 12.7%).

Mike Wheatley

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at mike@realtybiznews.com.

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