LendingTree reports that almost 5.8 million existing homes were sold in February—an annual increase of 7.2%.
Also, 765,000 new homes were sold during that same period, which is a 14.3% year-over-year increase. The number of new homes sold in the U.S. hit its highest level since 2007.
While the February report paints a positive picture, LendingTree said, “things look a lot different today” due to the spread of COVID-19.
“Americans are changing their spending habits and tightening their financial belts, with many putting home-shopping on the back burner,” LendingTree said.
LendingTree gauged homebuyer interest by studying Google search data in the nation's 50 largest metros. While the report found search for “homes for sales” grew from 2019 to early 2020, searches have dropped off in recent weeks.
The report found that searches for “homes for sales” have fallen across all 50 of the metros studied, with the average decline being 32% from each metro's 2020 peak.
LendingTree also said that if the impacts of COVID-19 continue over the next two months, searches could fall by an average of 63% across all metros compared to 2019 values.
Tucson, Arizona, had the largest decline, with searches falling 48.2% from its 2020 peak. Columbus, Ohio, was a close second at 43%.
Charlotte, North Carolina, saw the smallest annual decline in home searches at 18.4%. Fellow Tar Heel State metro, Raleigh, was second at 18.6% and was followed by Austin, Texas, at 19.8%.
Seattle had the largest annual increase from 2019 to 2020, with searches growing by 35.6%, but has seen searches decline in 2020 by 38.4%.
The expected drop in home interest was conveyed in response to the latest new-home sales report by the U.S. Census Bureau. While the report did find 765,000 new-home sales took place in February—a 14.3% annual increase—Lewis Holden, Home and Mortgage Specialist, NerdWallet, said February could be the “last hurrah” for new-home sales for several months. ‘
“New home sales are likely to fall drastically in the coming months as potential buyers hunker down in the homes that they want to move out of,” Lewis said.