This is disconcerting – hope that homebuyer demand is getting pent-up while we’re on the couch……
Southern California house hunters were already balking at buying existing homes amid coronavirus fears and business closings before real estate agents were told to halt most selling activities.
The number of new escrows in the six-county region in the 30 days ended March 19 was 16,619 — down 766 or 4% in four weeks, said ReportsOnHousing. Author Steve Thomas follows homebuying trends found in the home-selling listing services for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.
Let’s put this sales drop into perspective. Remember, this is prime homebuying season. My trusty spreadsheet tells me in the same period in the previous five years, new escrows averaged an increase of 904 or 5%. So this was quite a reversal in fortunes for local real estate.
“Stunning but not unexpected,” says Thomas.
Numerous factors have hit the market. House hunters and owners alike have lost job security. Lenders that should have been offering cheaper mortgages balked at lower rates due to market fluctuations and a rush of business. Fears of spreading disease scared many sellers and buyers from the very hands-on homebuying process.
And this recent sales drop came before new state government mandates to limit business interactions. That forced the California Association of Realtors on Friday to tell its members to stop all face-to-face home selling.
Thomas says he expects the majority of sales in progress to close but he expects few new deals to be made and that many listings will end. “Not much you can do until we get some certainty,” he says.
Coronavirus stomped out what appeared was a solid start to the selling season: Even the depressed March 19 escrows count was up 6.5% above the year-ago level. But four weeks earlier, escrows were rising at an 18% annual pace.
ReportsOnHousing found Southern California’s supply of existing homes to buy was steady as of March 19: 29,941 homes officially listed in the region, up 282 or 1% in four weeks. That’s on par with 250 listings added on average since 2013.
Here’s how the existing-home trends run in the region’s counties …
Los Angeles County:5,006 in escrow, down 381 or -7% in four weeks; 8,650 listings, up 2 in this period.
Orange County:2,398 in escrow, down 185 or -7% in four weeks; 4,159 listings, down 2.
Riverside County:2,983 in escrow, down 157 or -5% in four weeks; 6,793 listings, up 31.
San Bernardino County:2,313 in escrow, down 109 or -5% in four weeks; 4,406 listings, up 10.
San Diego County: 3,138 in escrow, down 115 or -4% in four weeks; 4,808 listings, up 220.
Ventura County:781 in escrow, up 181 or 30% in four weeks; 1,125 listings, up 21.Link to Article