real estate

COVID-19 Caused a Steep Drop in April Home Sales, So What’s Next?

New data shows the impact COVID-19 had on home sales in North Texas.

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Home sales dropped by 17% in April 2020, compared to April 2019. New listings fell by 26% and active listings decreased by 13%, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M and North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

The significant drop underscores the effects the pandemic had on the real estate market at a time when people were sheltering in place instead of touring strangers’ homes.

McKinney-based realtor Jared Tye said he believes the numbers will pick back up.

Tye said business came to a standstill in the first few of weeks of sheltering in place. Since then, he said he started to do more showings as clients have become comfortable with working around the pandemic.

“I’m not doing any open houses,” Tye said. “We’re avoiding settings to where you would have a large number of people in a small space.”

Instead, showings are moving online.

“I’ve had several showings where I carefully went to the home myself and walked through it on a FaceTime video call and showed it to the client in detail without the client ever leaving the safety of their own home,” Tye said.

Taylor Walcik with MetroTex Association of Realtors said he believes demand will resume this summer as buyers reconsider their own homes after sheltering in place for weeks at a time.

“If you thought your home was too small, or you hated your kitchen, all of your kids learning from home, you working from home, you’re really going to notice these things that drove you crazy,” Walcik said.

Walcik pointed to April numbers that showed median home prices continued to tick up by 5% during the pandemic.

“It’s taken the looky-loos and the tire kickers out of the market,” Walcik said. “We have a pool of very serious buyers looking at homes and we have a pool of very serious sellers. That’s what makes a deal happen."

He acknowledged many are watching the real estate market and using it as a barometer for the economic recovery during the pandemic.

“I think March numbers affected April numbers. I think now that we are in May and we have seen a rise in the number of homes being listed, our showings are going up and hopefully we will see our market improve,” Walcik said.

The forecast for the market also depends on whether there is a future increase in COVID-19 cases and the response to a surge.

For a few buyers and sellers, sheltering at home freed up time for home improvements and home searches.

Maranda Shanz began to seriously look at homes in early April. She toured three houses and closed on one last Friday. She picked up her keys Monday and moves in later this week.

Shanz said lower interest rates appealed to her, but so did the opportunity to have more time to organize a home search.

“I was honestly bored. I’ve wanted to buy a house for months,” Shanz said.

Shanz said she felt her job was secure and since she is a first-time home buyer, she didn’t have to worry about selling.

“I just decided I’ve been doing my research for a few months, getting knowledgeable about home buying and I might as well try,” Shanz said.

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