Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 2.4% month over month and 9.4% year over year in February—a fresh sign that the underpinnings of the real estate market are strong, even as the coronavirus outbreak poses significant challenges, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Monday. All four major regions of the country saw an increase in pending home sales last month.
Downward pressure on those numbers is expected moving forward, as NAR's latest housing data reflects a time period before the nation began adopting social distancing measures to control the spread of COVID-19. “February’s pending sales figures show the housing market had been very healthy prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Numbers in the coming weeks will show just how hard the housing market was hit, but I am optimistic that the upcoming stimulus package will lessen the economic damage, and we may get a V-shaped robust recovery later in the year.”
Given the new social and business realities surrounding COVID-19, real estate professionals have quickly adapted by offering virtual tours of properties online, as well as using electronic signatures and remote closings to keep transactions moving forward. “Many of the home sales that are likely to be missed during the first part of 2020 may simply be pushed into late summer and autumn,” Yun says.