NH Realtors survey: Buyers and sellers are pulling out of home market

69% of buyers delay looking for property, 63% of sellers delay listing due to coronavirus

Homebuyers are putting off buying and homesellers are putting off selling, and it has gotten worse in the last two weeks, according to a new survey by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.

But the rapidly deteriorating situation was not reflected fully in March sales data, which includes transactions before the economy was shut down due to the coronavirus.

Some 684 homebuyers and sellers responded to a Realtors’ survey on April 8, down from the 872 who answered an identically worded survey just two weeks before after the governor issued his stay-at-home order closing all non-essential businesses (including real estate until the group lobbied for an exemption). But the response to both surveys was much greater than the usual.

In the latest survey 69.3% of buyers decided to delay looking for a property, compared to 63.4%, two weeks before, while 63.5% of sellers postponed bringing new listings to the market, compared to 51.4% two weeks before.

Indeed, nearly 16% of sellers removed their listing altogether, up from 11.7% previously. It was business as usual for only 13%, down from 22.3 percent.

The changing sentiment is just beginning to show in the monthly data.

New listings of single-family homes in March fell nearly 7% from March 2019, whereas year-to-date the decline was less than 2%. Pending sales were flat for March, whereas year-to-date the increase was 2%.

But when you look at closed sales – deals that have been in the works for months – there was virtually no change.

Sales declined by 1% for the month and the quarter, but that was more because of the lack of inventory, which is down 25% from the year before. And median sales prices rose to $311,500 in March – a 9% increase from last year. Year-to-date, prices went up 6.7%.

In Rockingham and Hillsborough, the epicenter of the coronavirus in New Hampshire, the median March home sale price was $415,000 and $315,000 respectively, increases of 9.2% and 10.2%.

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