Looking for Normal

Looking for Normal

Week after week I analyze MLS data to try to figure out how the market is doing. The County lost ground again last week when comparing the number of new listings to the same week in 2019.

Number of Listings

Despite the underperformance, there were positive signs in last week’s data. Importantly, it was the fourth week in a row when the number of new listings increased. The weekly total was about the level of new listings in February of this year.

One path that we can imagine the market taking is a delayed spring market. Once sellers are comfortable that the public health situation is unlikely to get worse, and they get comfortable with showings in the COVID market, then perhaps we will see an uptick in the number of new listings. Maybe the current trend of increasing listings will continue. Maybe it will arrive after the May 20th date when the state begins to reopen. Or maybe that’s not our path in 2020.

Another observation from the chart is that we’re past the peak listing weeks from 2019. Last year the number of new listings began trending downwards after the last week in April.

Going forward, it should not surprise us if the 2020 new listings begin to exceed the 2019 new listings. If there actually is a backlog of potential sellers waiting to feel good about allowing showings, then the surge should overtake the 2019 weekly totals. The back half of the spring market is reasonably strong for new listings, but it is not as active as the peak listing weeks.

We honestly don’t know what to expect in the coming weeks and months, so we’re preparing for many different paths.

Our base case is that businesses will begin to reopen next week, but that everything will not magically go back to the way it used to be. There is likely to be an extended period of uncertainty as we wait for a vaccine. Businesses will be open with restrictions. We will each have to make our own judgments about what we are comfortable doing. People will randomly and periodically take 14 day quarantines when they are informed of potential exposures.

This will be normal, and the real estate market will operate within this environment.