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Existing Home Sales Underperform in March, But Homes Still Selling Fast

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Existing Home Sales Underperform in March, But Homes Still Selling Fast


April 22, 2020
man looking at home on laptop for buying home online
By Andrey Popov

These are tough times, and the housing market is already starting to show it. March sales hovered just 0.8 percent higher than the same time in 2019, and many of those sales were contracted in the beginning of the year before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Homes are still selling fast, thanks to the low inventory, but activity has definitely slowed down as sellers pull homes off the market, optimism declines, and the industry navigates the new world of nearly all-virtual sales. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, says that it will most likely get worse, with sales dropping as much as 30 to 40 percent.

Sales of existing homes fell a wider-than-expected 8.5% in March compared with February to an annualized pace of 5.27 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors’ seasonally adjusted index.

Sales were just 0.8% higher than in March 2019. 

These sales figures are based on closings that represent contracts signed mostly in late January and February, before the coronavirus shut down so much of the economy.

“We saw the stock market correction in late February,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR. “The first half of March held on reasonably well, but it was the second half of March where we saw a measurable decline in sales activity.” 

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