The number of new home listings dropped significantly the last several weeks as the coronavirus pandemic chilled the housing market, according to an analysis released Thursday by Zillow.
The number of new home listings typically grows by about 50 percent in March and early April to kick off spring buying season. This year, however, listings fell 19 percent in that period – and 27.1 percent from a year ago in the first week of April.
Counterintuitively, the total inventory of houses on the market is actually up – as the number of homebuyers has shriveled amid stay-at-home orders across the country, Zillow found.
“It is clear that many would-be home sellers are adopting a wait-and-see approach as uncertainty continues to rule. Our understanding of U.S. economic conditions is changing weekly, if not daily, and early unemployment figures are striking, so it’s understandable that some are hesitant to put their home on the market,” said Skylar Olsen, senior principal economist at Zillow.
With 6.6 million new jobless claims this week, 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks.
The greatest slowdowns in new listings since March 1 were seen in Detroit (down 61.8 percent), Pittsburgh (down 55.5 percent) and New York (down 49.1 percent). New listings were up or flat in 12 of the 35 largest U.S. metro markets – led by Phoenix (up 18.3 percent), Atlanta (up 15.6 percent), Sacramento (up 13.7 percent) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 13.7 percent).
Even with the increases, the gains in each of these 12 metro areas were a minimum of 14.5 percentage points below average gains during this period in 2018 and 2019.
“It is possible that this year’s busy home shopping season is pushed into winter as some opt to hang back, but activity continues from those who need to buy or sell for a job move or another major life event,” Olsen said. “What’s not likely is that the bulk of potential home sellers and buyers simply throw up their hands and pull back from the market entirely.”
One sign of the times: 3D home tours on Zillow are up 408 percent from February.
See the full report with each of the metro areas here.