As the U.S. posts around 60,000 new Coronavirus cases daily for several days in a row, the housing market seems to be returning to close to its pre-pandemic levels of activity.
Realtor.com reported its Housing Market Recovery Index for the week ending July 11 was 98.5, with a benchmark of 100 marking “pre-COVID levels.” This is a 0.7-point increase from the previous week.
The report measures time on the market, median list prices, and new listings for its recovery index. For the week ending July 11, time on the market was one day more than last year. Median list prices were 7.9% higher than a year ago, and new listings were down 19% over the year.
Total inventory, however, is down 32% from a year ago. The low inventories alongside record-low mortgage rates have created a market that clearly favors sellers.
Some of what would probably have been spring demand has been pushed into summer.
Eighteen of the major metros tracked by realtor.com are already above their pre-pandemic levels.
Markets in the West fared the best with an index of 104.6 for the region overall. The Northeast is also above its pre-pandemic level with a reading of 102.6 for the latest index.
The South charted a 96.3, and the Midwest index sat at 95.3. Not only are these regions behind their pre-pandemic levels, but Realtor.com reported that they are “losing momentum in the recovery.”
The Seattle metro is performing best with an index reading of 115.5, while the Boston metro followed close behind at 114.1. Denver and Philadelphia came next, both ranking just above 109, and New York and Los Angeles followed with a reading of 108.1.
The metros with the furthest to go toward recovery are Milwaukee (85.9) and Oklahoma (88.4).
“Homebuyers, trying to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and make up for lost time, are finding limited and more expensive options,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com. “Although sellers are slowly acclimating to this unexpected surge in buyer interest, inventory is still lagging behind demand which is driving quick time on market and listing price growth on par with this time last summer.”
BuildFax reported that while housing activity fell overall in June, “the data tells a more nuanced story,” pointing out that “The number of single-family housing authorizations experienced the steepest year-over-year decline in recent history. Meanwhile, existing housing activity remained relatively flat.”
BuildFax also noted that construction activity has declined as COVID-19 cases have risen and shared maps of construction permit activity alongside COVID-19 cases.