March contract totals gave no indication of the turmoil that Greater Hartford experienced during the month. The coronavirus pandemic arrived early in the month, closed schools beginning the week of 3/15, and resulted in a stay-at-home directive beginning the week of 3/22. Despite those unprecedented measures, the County finished the month with more signed contracts than March 2019.
The cumulative contracts signed as of each day of the month showed no signs of a slowdown either. The slope of the line at the end of the month was basically the same as the slope at the beginning of the month. Did the pandemic really have no impact on the local real estate market?
We are confident that the local real estate market changed dramatically even though data through the end of March still shows strength. Our view is that March included a significant amount of panic bidding, as buyers worried they might not actually be able to purchase a home. People took what they could get to some extent.
The regional real estate market is so large and complex that it takes time for changes to be obvious. The analogy that comes to mind is turning a large ship. Small adjustments that the Captain makes play out over a longer time period than one might expect.
The top chart shows the line for 2020 contracts returning toward the 2019 line in March. That regression was one signal that March was actually not business as usual. Another signal was the decrease in the number of new listings during each week of the month.
We expect the market to underperform 2019 in April as the Governor’s order for people to stay at home, and to close non-essential businesses continues. When life does begin to go back to normal, whenever that is, we do expect there to be pent up supply and demand that will begin the process of restarting area real estate markets.
Right now the top priority is the health and safety of our community. We’re still working with both buyers and sellers, but have modified our business practices to reflect the current environment. Feel free to contact us at any point with real estate questions – we are open for business.