Stay-at-Home Orders Put a Hold on the Housing Market

March 26, 2020
potential homebuyer looking forlornly out the window as the housing market slows
By olly

In just one week, homebuying demand went from holding a 1% increase over last year to plunging 27% compared with the same time in 2019, according to Redfin. Stay-at-home orders enacted in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19 are having a huge impact, and Redfin says that it can be felt most dramatically in heavily affected states such as California: Overnight, demand dropped after the state's governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order. But a few buyers are still committed to the purchase: Whatever their reason for needing to move immediately, they’re shopping online and signing deals in parking lots to get the closing done.

Since our last update on March 18, Redfin’s home-buying demand has slowed notably, with 27% fewer customers requesting to see homes over the past seven days than the same time last year. Last week, home-buying demand was still up 1% compared to the prior year. The slowdown is largely a result of stay-at-home orders having been issued in 18 states at the time of publication.

The impact of the stay-at-home orders can be seen most starkly by comparing California and Washington. Prior to March 23, Washington governor Jay Inslee had asked Washington residents to limit in-person activity but hadn’t yet issued a formal stay-at-home order. Homebuyer demand was down compared to the prior year, but sellers were still hosting showings and buyers were still making offers. By comparison, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order on March 19 that severely reduced homebuyer demand overnight. 

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