The world's largest real estate franchise by agent count
Here are the March/2020 MLS single-family statistics for Austin, TX:
March home sales stats were the one we’ve been waiting for since the COVID-19 outbreak grew dramatically during last month. Before I make any comments, however, keep in mind that March numbers also reflect sales where a buyer was already under contract (most sales close in 30-45 days) most likely in February before the virus had much effect. Also, the CDC issued guidelines to limit large groups on 3/15 and the Austin metro “Shelter in Place” orders came on 3/24. The SIP had the most effect on our Austin market since home showings and open houses virtually stopped after that order.
Regarding March numbers, there are 3 categories I want to concentrate on since they are all activity-related: Listings, Pendings and Activity Index. Listings dropped dramatically, but not unlike January’s 26% and February’s 32% drops.I do think the latter part of March was affected somewhat since some sellers took their homes “temporarily off market” to stop their days on market clock running hoping their relatively lower days on market would be beneficial and/or because of concerns with buyers coming into their homes due to COVID-19. Pendings, however paint a much different picture since this is a future-indicator of our real estate market’s health overall and we dropped 23% compared to March/2019.I have to go back to Mar/2014 to find the next March where pendings dropped.Activity Index is the ratio of the number of pendings divided by the number of Actives+Pendings.This gives us a numerical representation of whether the market is going up or down in the near future. At first glance, it would appear things are good since it was still a positive swing compared to last March, even though only by 6%, but compare that to Jan/Feb this year when the index went up by 28% and 31% respectively.Again, all of these indicators are future-looking indicators which clearly show a slowing in our market obviously caused by COVID.
So, how does the future look going forward? This is hard to say given that we still don’t have a handle on this virus and we are still under a Shelter in Place order. However, I watched a webinar yesterday with a local economist, Mark Sprague who has been researching our market for over 30 years and he compared it to a baseball game that had a storm delay. The weather got bad, so the players had to leave the field until it blew over and then they resumed their game...same players, game, field, etc.He feels that because of our very strong Austin economy before the virus that we will recover better than most, if not all real estate markets when we get the back to work orders. He even mentioned it could bounce back in as little as 2 weeks or so.And, the government is working on plans to get everyone back to work starting as soon as May.After all, this is the first time our country has had a recession not caused us...but an outside force.The strength of the national economy before COVID was strong, too, so there is no reason to believe we won’t recover once we get through the next few months of getting everyone back to work.
If you need to buy a home, you should buy a home and if you need to sell a home, you should put it on the market. Personally, COVID has had a marginal effect on my real estate business since I just had a closing this morning and put 2 of my listings under contract the past couple of weeks.