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NAR Weekly Poll Finds Members with Sellers Ready to Roll When Bans are Lifted

[Updated: May 11, 2020 ] May 11, 2020 by Marc Rapport
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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says 77% of the respondents to its latest members survey say they have potential sellers poised to go on the market as soon as stay-at-home orders are lifted in their areas, and about half of those clients are completing DIY projects as they wait.

Coincidentally enough, 77% is also how many of the 33 million Americans left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic expect to get their jobs back, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted at nearly the same time as the NAR's Economic Pulse Flash Survey.

Together, along with reports of increased application activity, they point to an optimism about the U.S. economy frozen by the outbreak of COVID-19 that in a few short weeks killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War.

Essential activity gearing up

Multiple states, despite concerns about worsening the spread, are rolling back restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen. Real estate in many areas was deemed an essential activity and never was shut down, although job loss and social distancing concerns had caused listings to fall off sharply in many areas.

But now, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, "After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy. Plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with these locked-in monthly payments into future years."

By the numbers

That optimism also is reflected in home prices, which frequent reports have shown have held steady through the crisis, including in last week's NAR survey, in which 73% reported their clients haven't reduced their asking prices.

Median prices nationally are up 8%, the NAR says in its Weekly Housing Market Monitor, but new listings are down 41% for the four weeks ending May 3, both from the same period last year. New sales contracts also are down 33%. Homes that did sell sold quickly, the trade group says, at 30 days on the market instead of 36 at this point a year ago, and the median closing time remained 38 days.

Some changes in features, location

There have been some changes among potential buyers, the survey found. A shift in neighborhood preferences from urban to suburban was reported by 5% of the responding Realtors, and 13% said their buyers have changed at least one home feature that's important to them due to COVID-19. "For these buyers, the most common home features they identified as important are home offices, yard space for exercising or growing food, and space to accommodate family," the NAR said in its May 7 press release.

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