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How COVID-19 Case Numbers Impact Metropolitan Home Sales

covid, coronavirus, masks, pandemic

Any real estate professional will tell you that selling and buying homes during 2020 has been an intense process. The speed of sales has never been faster, for example. But there’s a big difference between areas with higher numbers of COVID-19 cases and lower numbers—a 9% difference, to be exact.

Redfin.com [1] reports that U.S. metropolitan areas that rank 20% or lower in COVID-19 experienced 9% more sales than the other 80% of counties. They analyzed 116 high-density areas, including Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Portland, and Phoenix.

To be more specific, the counties with the lowest reported COVID-19 cases saw a 54.1% increase in home sales versus the 45.1% increase in the areas with higher COVID-19 counts.

“Many of the counties with fewer coronavirus cases per capita happen to be the same suburban counties that people are moving to during the pandemic,” said Redfin Senior Economist Reginald Edwards. “Folks are migrating to these places because the crowded, expensive cities they used to live in no longer have as much to offer, with restaurants, entertainment, and workplaces shut down.”

These counties with fewer coronavirus cases also have more inventory. In fact, their new listings climbed 20.6% during the four-week period ending on December 1, compared to 12.8% growth in the higher-case counties.

The lack of inventory can be chalked up to coronavirus fear, shutdowns, and social distancing protocols. Many homeowners who would like to sell, for example, but simply can’t manage to get their homes ready to sell with working from home, schooling children, and the added pressures of pandemic life.

“A lot of homeowners can’t get their kids, dogs, and themselves out of the house for long enough to put their property on the market,” said Massachusetts Redfin agent Alysandra Nemeth. “I also know people who are really nervous about having strangers touring their homes during a pandemic.”

Getting a home real-estate ready is enough of a challenge during “normal” times. When people aren’t leaving their homes, it’s next to impossible. Many potential sellers don’t want the added pressure. Not to mention, when would their homes be considered safe after an open house or tour?

“It’s tough because they also know that it’s the perfect time to sell,” said Nemeth. “They’re going to get top-dollar for their home since there’s such a severe inventory shortage and everyone is moving.”