New-Home Sales Hurting in March, But Overall Market Declines Could Be Slowing

David Deem

March's new-home sales took a deep dive, according to the Commerce Department's monthly report this week.

The Breakdown

New-Home Sales: 627,000

- 14.8 percent below February 2020
- 14.6 percent below March 2019

For-Sale Inventory: 333,000
Months' Supply: 6.4
Median Price: $21,400

According to Zillow's new Real Estate Market Report, the second half of March experienced the biggest drop for home sales, but that decline levelled off in recent weeks, and the market is showing positive signs.

The report shows that pending sales peaked in the seven days leading to March 12, then fell due to the spread of COVID-19. They are currently 32.3 percent below last year's level.

In terms of inventory, for-sale listings increased by 3.3 percent in March, while new listings fell by 17.2 percent—total inventory has decreased 12.1 percent YoY.

What the Industry's Saying

"Real estate transactions and new listings have declined abruptly amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but we haven't yet seen prices significantly affected. Buyers have pulled back in the face of new economic uncertainty but sellers are also shying away from listing their homes in a market that was already starved for inventory, so it is possible that home prices remain insulated, at least in the short-term. Like a canoe being carried by two people who drop both ends simultaneously, the market slowdown may not tip clearly in favor of buyers or sellers." – Jeff Tucker, Economist, Zillow

"Despite the sharp decline in new home sales this month, the first quarter of 2020 was actually 6.7 percent higher than the same period last year, reflecting a strong pace prior to the virus outbreak. While we expect to see some further impacts to the industry, we remain confident that housing will be a sector that will help lead the economic recovery." – Dean Mon, Chairman, National Association of Home Builders

"The drop in March sales reflects buyer concerns over the virus, and was primarily concentrated in the hardest hit regions of the Northeast and West. The weakening in sales is in line with our builder surveys that showed dramatic declines in buyer traffic and builder confidence in April. We expect further slowing of the pace of new home sales in April, as jobless claims continue to rise, before stabilizing later this year." – Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders.

DRE #01266522


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