Sellers Slowly Returning To Housing Market

A pair of housing reports released Thursday show mortgage applications and new home listings are down amid the coronavirus pandemic, though sellers are slowly beginning to return to the market.

Mortgage applications for new home purchases dropped 12 percent in April from a year ago and 25 percent from March, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Builder Application Survey.

A survey found that for the week ending May 9 there were 29 percent fewer new listings than a year ago, but that decline is significantly lower than the declines of nearly 40 percent in previous weeks.

“New home purchase applications severely weakened in April, which coincided with the peak of the social distancing efforts and restrictions on non-essential activities to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. 

Kan added, “There’s evidence now that unrealized, pent-up demand is being released as states start to reopen. We expect that heading into the summer, more prospective homebuyers will gradually return to the market.”

The survey also found:

  • Total inventory was down 19 percent year-over-year, unchanged from the previous week. 
  • Time on market was 13 days slower than last year on average, the biggest increase in time on market since 2013.
  • Median listing prices are still growing at a slower pace than pre-pandemic, but they may regain momentum in the weeks to come.

“While new listings are still declining on a yearly basis, last week’s jump shows some sellers are ready for a summer home sale — a positive sign for the market,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for “But despite this uptick, time on market continues to increase and there’s a long road ahead to getting back to last year’s pace of new sellers.”