Home Buyer Demand During COVID-19: Metros With the Best Rebounds and Worst Drop-offs

By 

Dr. Francesca Ortegren

Updated 

September 8th, 2020

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The housing market took a hit when coronavirus cases began to surge in the U.S. and related shutdowns slowed the economy. 

We examined the national housing market trends in terms of buyer demand and took a deep dive into how large metro areas fared in comparison by creating a Housing Demand Metric that tracks buyer demand as a result of the coronavirus shutdowns in 50 U.S. metros. 

The Housing Demand Metric includes three variables associated with buyer demand: 

  • Median days on market

  • Percentage of active listings on market for less than two weeks

  • The contract ratio (pending sales / active listings)

National analyses showed that the lowest point of buyer demand was during the week of April 6, 2020. We used that date as a “low point” for comparison. The more-recent trends were based on the most recent data from June 15, 2020.

Take a look at the table of contents below to explore national trends, more detail about our Housing Demand Metric, and the cities with the most and least demand today compared to April. 

National Trends: Low Inventory, High Demand

The housing market has been booming for years after recovering from the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and many questioned the potential for another bubble as a result of inflated housing prices, historically low interest rates, and the uptick in subprime lending. Although those concerns may have been warranted, no one could have predicted the waves of economic turmoil that began scouring the country as a result of the novel coronavirus in early 2020. 

Many state and local governments began mandating non-essential business closures in March of this year, leading to a sharp decline in the economy and housing markets. Home sellers, concerned about plummeting home values and job security, put off marketing their homes, while many buyers seemed to hope for a good deal

There were fewer homes on the market at the beginning of 2020 than the beginning of 2019 — which is perhaps not surprising given the inflated market over the last few years. The overall trend, however, seemed similar to last year; active listings steadily rose through late March.

Real estate tends to be seasonal, with the market heating up throughout the spring and summer and cooling off in late fall. The number of active listings, however, took a downward turn around April when COVID-19 cases became widespread across the US and has yet to recover.

The relatively low number of active listings across the nation supports previous research that sellers are being cautious about putting their homes on the market during the pandemic lockdowns.

Although inventory might be low, buyers are still biting: The weekly pending sales in 2020 took a huge hit in early April but have since recovered to meet back up with 2019 sales. 

Based on analyses of previous, similar lockdown procedures across the world, many predicted what real-estate expert Mike DelPrete called a “checkmark” recovery wherein the housing market would experience a quick dip, 3-4 weeks at the bottom, and a steady — albeit slow — recovery period. 

Pending sales across the U.S. exhibited this checkmark-shaped recovery: a sharp decline in sales, followed by a quick turnaround after only a week at the very bottom. However, the recovery was quicker than Mike DelPrete predicted, indicating that buyers haven’t shied away from the market.

Put together, buyer demand can be gauged by calculating the contract ratio, or the ratio of pending sales to active listings. 

If there are significantly more listings than sales in a given market — leading to a lower contract ratio — we can presume low buyer demand relative to supply (i.e., seller inventory). A higher contract ratio (closer to 1:1, or 100% sold inventory) indicates higher demand.

In 2019, the contract ratio increased as we moved toward the summer months in a relatively steady fashion. The trend was similar in early 2020, but the ratio decreased sharply in March and early April, meaning fewer homes were purchased relative to the number of homes on market at the time. 

Since the initial drop in March and early April, more homes compared to listings have gone under contract than last year. 

Not only are houses selling at higher rates, they’re getting snatched up quickly. The percentage of houses on the market for less than two weeks has been consistently above that of 2019 since late April, after the initial slowdown. Those fast sales indicate high buyer demand. 

During the week of April 6, 2020 (week 15), when the US saw the lowest housing slump, the percentage of homes sold within two weeks was 16% lower than during that same week in 2019. By June 15 (week 25), the percentage of homes selling within two weeks on market was 34% higher in 2020 than 2019.

As a result of the huge buyer demand compounded with low inventory, sellers have the upper hand. Prices have consistently been higher this year than they were last  — even through the housing slowdown — and continue to rise. 

The higher listing prices aren’t just indicative of sellers’ wishful thinking: Fewer active listings this year have had a price drop, and the proportion of listings with a price drop continues to plummet from 2019 as we move through the summer months. 

The Housing Demand Metric

The national housing market has remained strong due to low inventory and high demand. Certain markets have been slow to recover, however, while other markets rebounded even more sharply.

We created a market-rebound metric that tracks recent buyer demand (week 25; June 15, 2020) compared to the lowest demand point in the U.S. (week 15; April 6, 2020) as a result of the coronavirus shutdowns in 50 U.S. metros. 

The Housing Demand Metric includes three variables associated with buyer demand: 

  • Median days on market

  • Percentage of active listings on market for less than two weeks

  • The contract ratio (pending sales / active listings)

We ranked each metro area on the Housing Demand Metric overall by standardizing values using national averages — see methodology for more detail — during the weeks of April 6 and June 15, 2020. 

Final rankings were determined by the difference in ranking between April 6 and June 15, 2020, on our Demand Metric. In other words, drops in positions in overall ranking indicates that the local housing demand decreased over time, while a decrease in ranking (i.e., lower value, higher position) indicates an increase in demand.

To investigate that possibility and to establish a metric that tracks market rebounds in terms of demand, we evaluated Redfin.com weekly data for 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. 

A Closer Look at Changes in Metro Housing Demand

Quick sales depend on location: The percentage of homes sold within two weeks nearly doubled for our top 10 metros but actually decreased by 34% for the bottom 10 metros, on average.

The median days on market across the top cities was about 66 days in April, compared to 58 in June, whereas homes spend about the same amount of time (<1 day difference) on market in cities that haven’t rebounded as quickly.

The contract ratio (pending sales / active listings) was 2.75x higher for the top 10 metros during week 25 (10%) than it was during week 15 (4%), indicating a boost in buyer demand.

The proportion of homes under contract compared to those available (i.e., the contract ratio) decreased by about 6% for the bottom 10 metros in our list, on average. In other words, the inventory is there — people just aren’t buying.

Housing Demand by Metro

Metros With the Largest Increases in Demand

#1 Albany, NY Metro

It wasn’t just New York City’s housing market that fell as a result of rampant coronavirus spreading and shutdowns: The Albany area also took a hit, albeit slower than the national decline.

According to our Housing Demand Metric, the Albany area was hit hard in late March, but buyer demand has continued to creep up since then, beyond national averages. 

The area’s buyer demand fell sharply — much like the rest of the country — in mid-April with some back-and-forth week-over-week, suggesting that the impact on the housing market in Albany was turbulent. 

In mid-April, homes were sitting on the market longer than normal, about 122 days total, and 35% of homes were sold within two weeks of listing.

Moreover, only about 2% of active listings were pending sale in mid-April, leaving the majority of the inventory untouched. That increased to nearly 9% by mid-June, indicating a surge in demand.

Albany Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 4.5 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 42.5 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $12,612.50 more

  • Price Drops: 21.1% less

  • Median Days on Market: 18.6-day decrease

#2 Houston, TX Metro

The Houston area similarly experienced a sudden plummet in buyer demand around late March and early April of this year. Low demand didn’t last long, though: Houston’s demand met and exceeded pre-COVID levels by mid-May and continues to rise.

It’s no surprise that Houston landed high in our ranking, as the city saw record sales last month, and contracts increased by more than 200% in relation to active inventory.

We spoke to Michael Russell, a real estate agent with Keller Williams in The Woodlands area and a Clever Partner Agent, who said there's “extremely low inventory below $500,000 with price increasing” and “high buyer demand, especially below $300,000.” 

He doesn’t expect much of a change in the Houston-area market in the next few months, either, stating that he assumes there will be “more of the same, with interest rates staying low and inventory low, price will continue to increase, and demand will remain high.”

Interestingly, though, houses in the Houston metro are sitting on the market for about 6 more days than they were in April, when the median time on market was about 54 days.

Houston Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 390.7 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 257 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $19,770.40 more

  • Price Drops: 34.47% less

  • Median Days on Market: 5.9-day increase

According to the Texas Medical Association, Houston has had more than 55,000 positive COVID-19 cases as of July 8, 2020, and daily cases are on the rise. 

The entire state of Texas is experiencing stricter “quarantine” measures as a result of rising positive cases, and if lockdowns are associated with housing demand, the area could see a shift toward lower demand as we move through the summer. 

#3 Harrisburg, PA Metro

Homes in the Pennsylvania capital are typically in high demand. Earlier this year, for instance, buyer demand in the metro was over two standard deviations higher than the national average. 

The huge surge of COVID-19 cases in the northeast in early March, however, threw a wrench in demand, leading to a huge drop through April. Since the lowest point during the week of April 27, 2020, however, demand has been exponentially increasing, leaving sellers with an upper hand.

Sellers were able to list their homes for an average of $18,129 more in June than they were in April, and nearly 20% fewer homes have price drops. 

The increase in listing price hasn’t deterred buyers: Although the median days on market has increased overall in the area, over 76% of homes are sold within 14 days of listing compared to only 45% during early April. 

Harrisburg Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 7.3 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 85.3 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $18,128.88 more

  • Price Drops: 19.88% less

  • Median Days on Market: Increased by 12.4 days

#4 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX Metro

The DFW metroplex has continued to have buyer interest despite the novel coronavirus, much like Houston. In fact, the area had indications of increasing demand on all three of our metrics.

The contract ratio for the area increased by 45% between April 6 and June 15, indicating that people are now searching for homes. 

Homes are moving more quickly than before, too. Listings were sitting on the market for nearly 95 days in April but dropped 34% to about 62 days by June and nearly 4x more homes sold within 14 days.

While the DFW area was among a handful of metros that had year-over-year home price drops between June 2019 and 2020, according to Realtor.com analyses, demand is still inflated. USA Today reported that the Dallas metro had the second-highest rate of offers that landed in bidding wars in May. 

A decline in prices could indicate the market is on the verge of slowing down, as the DFW area is experiencing the same rampant coronavirus cases as Houston. 

Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 10.7 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 1.5 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $466.75 less

  • Price Drops: 14.73% less

  • Median Days on Market: 32.7-day decrease

#5 New Orleans, LA Metro

New Orleans buyers weren’t affected much differently than the national averages, likely due to the early impact of the coronavirus in the area.

According to The New York Times, the New Orleans area had a huge spike in COVID-19 cases early on (early to mid-April), before many other large metropolitan areas in the country. During its peak, the area averaged more than 1,000 new cases each week before slowing down in May. 

Throughout that time, real estate demand in the metro didn’t veer much from the national trends. 

As of mid-June, more homes were selling at higher prices than in April, there were fewer price drops, and there was not much of a change in overall time on the market. In fact, the proportion of homes on market for fewer than two weeks nearly doubled between April 6 and June 15, 2020. 

As cases begin to rise in New Orleans again, we can likely expect the trends to follow national trends. 

New Orleans Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 32.7 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 69 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $12,633 more

  • Price Drops: 13.12% less

  • Median Days on Market: 0.3-day increase

#6 Detroit, MI Metro

In June 2020, the housing market in the Detroit area wasn’t as strong as it was during June of last year. In fact, new and active listings were down about 25%, and homes stayed on the market about a week longer this year than last.

But the demand for housing was high: The median listing price was 3.7% higher this year than it was last year, and sales were up from late March, when buyer demand plummeted. Since early April, buyer demand, according to our Housing Demand Metric, increased by 162%.

Active listing prices have increased by more than $10,000 in just two months, and homes are selling nearly two weeks faster on average, leaving sellers with a huge advantage over buyers. 

Detroit Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 21.3 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 50.8 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $10,482.50 more

  • Price Drops: 18.13% less

  • Median Days on Market: 13.8-day decrease

#7 Washington, DC Metro

Buyer demand in the greater Washington, DC, area is typically higher than average but experienced a 130% drop in overall demand (according to our metric) in less than a month in late March. 

Since around April 20, though, the demand has steadily increased and is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. The boost was evidenced by 57% of offers in the D.C. area facing bidding wars in May. 

Despite increased listing prices, buyers are still biting: More than 11% of available homes were under contract as of June 15, compared to only 5% in April. 

Washington, D.C. Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 38.1 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 80 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $3,899.29 more

  • Price Drops: 22.06% less

  • Median Days on Market: 9-day decrease

#8 Cleveland, OH Metro

The COVID-19 impact on Cleveland’s housing demand wasn’t as severe as it was nationally, but it has still rebounded from the slight drop in demand in late April. 

The increase in overall demand since March has been much faster than nationally, leaving Cleveland among the top metros that have recovered in demand, according to our metric, and in prices, according to Realtor.com.

Cleveland Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 43 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 44 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $10,450 more

  • Price Drops: 24.39% less

  • Median Days on Market: 36.8-day decrease

#9 Nashville, TN Metro

Like much of the country, Nashville experienced high rates of unemployment throughout the second quarter of 2020, jumping from 3.3% in March to 15.5% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Numbers across the board are dropping as some areas are opening up non-essential businesses, but unemployment is still inflated, which can impact housing markets. 

Unfortunately for Nashville sellers, buyer demand was lower than average for most of 2020, even prior to the coronavirus-related shut downs.

Buyer demand was at its lowest on the week of April 20 and has continued to slowly rise to near pre-COVID-19 levels, despite fluctuations week over week.

Indicative of the change in demand, the proportion of homes sold within two weeks of listing in June nearly doubled from April, and the number of days a typical home spends on the market dropped by more than 60%. 

Nashville Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 78.8 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 183 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $10,951.25 more

  • Price Drops: 16.38% less

  • Median Days on Market: 4.6-day decrease

#10 Philadelphia, PA Metro

Philly has had a strong housing market in recent years, with buyer demand levels nearing national averages. But demand took a huge hit during the early days of the coronavirus shutdowns. 

The number of COVID-19 cases in the area were highest in late March through early May and have decreased since peaking, which may be why the demand for housing in Philadelphia has steadily increased since early April. 

That demand is having a large impact on home values in the Philadelphia area: There were 23% fewer price drops on active listings in June compared to April, and prices in the most affordable homes jumped nearly 14% between March and May — second only to Newark, NJ.

Relatively few new cases of the virus suggests that Philly may not see a second wave of economic shutdowns in the immediate future like some of the other cities on our list, leaving the possibility of growth in the housing market.

Philadelphia Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 10.2 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 38 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $11,800 more

  • Price Drops: 23.2% less

  • Median Days on Market: 15.2-day decrease

Metros With the Biggest Drops in Demand

 

#1 Tulsa, OK Metro

The biggest drop in demand on our list falls in Oklahoma. The Tulsa area didn’t experience huge demand drops early on, though; in fact, buyer demand rose quickly into May until it plummeted.

Considering that Oklahoma was one of only nine states who had record-high coronavirus case numbers much of last month, it is reasonable to expect that buyer demand won’t rebound until later in the year.  

Consistent with those demand drops, Tulsa was one of the only metros on our list that had decreases on all three of our demand metrics. 

The contract ratio in the Tulsa area decreased by 80% since mid-April, meaning fewer homes are going under contract relative to the number of houses on the market.

The proportion of homes sold within two weeks also dropped by more than 50% between April and June, indicating a slow market. 

The lower demand isn’t always great for sellers, but buyers have a bit of an advantage when homes are staying on the market longer. There’s less pressure to act quickly, more room for negotiation, and prices tend to be less competitive with less buyer demand.

Tulsa Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 28 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 46 fewer sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $28,218.50 more

  • Price Drops: 4.89% less

  • Median Days on Market: 8-day decrease

#2 Salt Lake City, UT Metro

After having one of its best years in residential sales in 2019, homes continued to be very in-demand for much of the year in the Salt Lake City metro area compared to the rest of the country. Like Tulsa, buyer demand in the SLC area wasn’t impacted by the initial housing slump in April, but it has seen a dive in demand more recently. 

SLC’s staggering drop in overall demand is particularly evident in the area’s contract ratio, which also experienced a huge drop in more-recent weeks. More than 14% of available homes were pending in early May, compared to only 5% by mid-June. 

Low buyer demand isn’t impacting listing prices, though. In fact, median listing prices were nearly $30,000 more during the week of June 15 than they were in early April, and fewer sellers are dropping prices. 

With plummeting buyer demand, however, higher prices might not hold strong through the rest of the summer unless there is a swift rebound. 

Salt Lake City Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 78.3 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 61 fewer sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $29,182.50 more

  • Price Drops: 16.53% less

  • Median Days on Market: 1.3-day increase

#3 Tucson, AZ Metro

Since last year, the supply in Tucson has decreased by over 25% in terms of total number of homes for sale and newly listed homes, according to Redfin. And, while overall demand was relatively low throughout the year, it has been on a steady decline since early April, with a large drop in June.

The more-recent drop in demand is highlighted by homes sitting on the market longer and fewer pending sales. All of which may be due to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the state of Arizona. 

Arizona cases were relatively low through the end of May. To match up with the dates used for our analyses, we can see a strong correlation with the increases in cases and sharp drop in housing demand: There were only 187 new cases on April 6, compared to 1,040 on June 15. The daily cases continue to outpace the previous day, with more recent cases reaching over 4,000 per day. 

The Tucson area has followed a similar pattern of cases, now reaching more than 11,000 confirmed. As cases continue to rise, it’s likely that demand will drop even further.

Tucson Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 72 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 37 fewer sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $10,100 more

  • Price Drops: 24.13% less

  • Median Days on Market: 4-day increase

#4 Virginia Beach, VA Metro

The Virginia Beach area landed on Business Insider’s best cities for first-time home buyers list for the city's affordable homes and beautiful scenery. 

The appeal of the area has been dwindling lately, though. Overall demand is on a downward trend while prices are rising, which may deter new homebuyers. 

After an initial increase, demand in the Virginia Beach area has dropped, putting the market back to pre-coronavirus levels but lower than typical summer demand. The drop in demand may be due to closures related to the increasing coronavirus cases, but recreational activities are expected to open back up (with some limitations) later in July

In line with the drop in demand, the percentage of active listings pulled off the market increased by 137% between the weeks of March 23 and June 15, 2020, suggesting that sellers are concerned about the ability to get value out of their home. 

Virginia Beach Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 217 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 52 fewer sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $13,900 more

  • Price Drops: 24.39% less

  • Median Days on Market: 0.5-day decrease

#5 Cincinnati, OH Metro

The Cincinnati metro area has experienced a huge surge in home values since mid-April, with active listings averaging around $215,555 in mid-June compared to about $180,266 in April.

The $35,000+ increase in home values in just a few months places Cincy in the top 5 recovered cities price-wise, according to Forbes.

Despite growing home values and lower-than-normal inventory, the area has had recent declines in buyer demand — much lower than national averages. Lower buyer demand has led to longer stays on the market for most homes; the typical home is on the market for nearly a month longer now than it was earlier this year in the Cincinnati metro area.

Cincinnati Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 105 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 73 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $35,288.67 more

  • Price Drops: 25.35% less

  • Median Days on Market: 29.3-day increase

#6 Jacksonville, FL Metro

Median sale prices in the Jacksonville area are 6% higher this year than they were in 2019, suggesting a “hot” market. But overall buyer demand isn’t faring as well. 

In fact, demand has been on a downward trend since early April, according to our Housing Demand Metric. Moreover, the new listing prices are dropping: As of June, 2020, the median list price in Jacksonville was one of only four metro areas that saw decreases in listing prices compared to the same time last year, so the area will likely see a decline in overall sale prices as we move through the rest of the summer.

Recent surges in COVID-19 cases in Florida and the Jacksonville area won’t help demand in coming weeks. 

Jacksonville, FL Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 93 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 85 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $8,775 more

  • Price Drops: 21.25% less

  • Median Days on Market: 32.3-day increase

#7 Kansas City, MO Metro

Like many of the areas at the bottom of our Housing Demand ranking, the Kansas City metropolitan area had a bit of a boost in buyer demand moving into spring with more-recent declines. 

On average, the KC area isn’t faring horribly: Buyer demand in the area still averages around national levels but fluctuates quite a bit from week to week. 

The number of homes sold and pending sales in the area are lower than they were in April, indicating that KC is losing inventory and some buyer demand — a red flag for the future of the housing market. 

Kansas City Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 1 fewer home

  • Pending Sales: 9.3 fewer sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $28,416.83 more

  • Price Drops: 10.87% more

  • Median Days on Market: 40.3-day decrease

#8 Knoxville, TN Metro

The housing market in Knoxville seems to be suffering during the pandemic: The median listing price has dropped by more than $26,000 since early April (nearly a 9% decrease), and more people are dropping prices from their initial list price. 

Those drops in listing price could be due to sellers trying to attract buyers, as the proportion of homes that sell within two weeks of listing have dropped by nearly half. That, along with more inventory, are indicative of reduced buyer demand.

Buyer demand in the Knoxville area has been below average for much of 2020. As of mid-June, the area’s Housing Demand was more than 1.5 standard deviations below the national average and seems to be on a continuing downward trend, which is cause for concern for the market in general.

Knoxville Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 63.5 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 27 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $26,191.83 less

  • Price Drops: 1.15% more

  • Median Days on Market: 1.5-day decrease

#9 Little Rock, AR Metro

Buyer demand in the Little Rock, Arkansas, area has been relatively volatile compared to national averages for much of the pandemic, so recent decreases might change rapidly depending on cases and shutdowns in the area moving forward. 

Even at its peaks, though, demand in the area is typically lower than national averages. 

More recently, the area has experienced a 5% increase in the number of days homes stay on the market and a 30% decrease in homes sold within two weeks of listing. Both indicate a significant decline in overall buyer demand compared to available inventory. 

Little Rock Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 30.7 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 19.3 more sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $4,108.33 more

  • Price Drops: 23.06% less

  • Median Days on Market: 2.7-day increase

#10 Boise City, ID Metro

Boise City and surrounding areas show some signs of a strong market in that the median listing price has increased by more than $45,000 between April and June (a 15% increase) with fewer price drops.

But the buyer demand may be on a downslope. Similar to Little Rock, the Boise metro has seen large fluctuations in buyer demand throughout the summer, but a clear downward trend on average is cause for concern for sellers. 

Despite large fluctuations in demand, it does follow general national trends on average. Therefore, the recent vacillation and downturn of buyer demand in the Boise area may be related to recent upticks in coronavirus cases throughout the country. The area itself has seen continuously lower weekly COVID-19 cases since peaking in March. 

Boise City Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total Homes Sold: 39.3 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 2.5 fewer sales

  • Median Listing Price: Listing for $45,827.50 more

  • Price Drops: 25.74% less

  • Median Days on Market: 14.8-day decrease

Metros Hit Hard by COVID-19

San Francisco Metro

The San Francisco area is notorious for sky-high home prices and unsurprisingly had demand levels nearly 2.5 standard deviations above national averages prior to COVID-19’s introduction into the US.

The San Francisco area was one of the first in the country to introduce widespread lockdowns for non-essential businesses, leading to a shift in buyer demand in early March. Demand in the area is still higher than the US average, though, even after a 92% drop in buyer demand. 

The demand drop seems to have leveled off since declines continued through much of May, suggesting the market may recover quickly.

In line with that hypothesis, demand is on the rise on two of our metrics: The proportion of pending sales to active listings (i.e., the contract ratio) is up 110% since April, and homes sold within two weeks of listing increased 65% in that same time period.

San Francisco Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total homes sold: 41.8 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 68.3 more sales

  • Median listing price: Listing for $16,300 more

  • Price drops: 10.1% less

  • Median days on market: Increased by 14.4 days

Chicago Metro

Compared to last year, the Chicago metro had nearly 20% fewer active listings in June, and prices remained pretty stable.

While the area’s numbers aren’t as solid as they were last year, coronavirus shoutdowns didn't hit Chicagoland nearly as hard as other large metros across the country. Instead, buyer demand stayed strong (and mostly above average) throughout the year — even displaying an upward trend overall.

Chicago Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total homes sold: 4 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 16 more sales

  • Median listing price: Listing for $9,450 more

  • Price drops: 2.6% less

  • Median days on market: Increased by 9 days

Los Angeles Metro

The Los Angeles area’s buyer demand was hit much harder than overall national buyer demand. There was a huge swing downward beginning early in the year that persisted and dropped even further through the coronavirus case peaks in March and April. 

Buyer demand experienced a sharp climb throughout May that dwindled a bit in June. But individual metrics do lend promise to the housing market in the LA area: More homes are pending sales, prices have increased, and there have been fewer price drops relative to active listings since early April. 

Moreover, the area has seen a 91% increase in the contract ratio, suggesting that demand is growing faster than inventory.

Los Angeles Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total homes sold: 128.5 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 203.5 more sales

  • Median listing price: Listing for $22,950 more

  • Price drops: 7.6% less

  • Median days on market: Increased by 4 days

New York City Metro

The NYC area was one of the earliest- and hardest-hit areas of the country in terms of coronavirus cases and severity of hospital overload. Many speculated that the local economy and housing market would suffer as a result, but median prices are still high — 1.3% higher in June than they were last year — and the number of new listings has remained similar year-over-year.

Despite the extreme havoc of COVID-19 in the New York City area and week-over-week fluctuations, buyer demand in NYC has surprisingly stayed relatively stable over the past few months.

New York City Metro Area Low Point vs. Recent Housing Trends

  • Total homes sold: 58.4 more homes

  • Pending Sales: 36.4 more sales

  • Median listing price: Listing for $29,457.67 more

  • Price drops: 17% less

  • Median days on market: Decreased by 17.5 days

Methodology

All data were collected from Redfin.com.

The Housing Demand Metric was created by standardizing and ranking metros on the percentage of homes on the market for two weeks or less, median days on market, and contract ratio in each area. 

Contract ratio was calculated as the percentage of pending sales to active listings in the area.

The Housing Demand Metric was created by calculating the percentage of listings on market for less than two weeks (multiplied by 1000) plus the contract ratio (multiplied by 1000) minus the median days on market. The former two were multiplied by 1000 to allow for better depiction in positive values (as opposed to negative values when subtracting median days on market) but do not affect the overall ranking, as those are based on standardized scores. 

All three variables were standardized into a z-score using national averages and standard deviations. The national values were calculated using all county data available (approximately 23,000 counties) for the same variables. 

We then calculated an overall score for each metro by adding the standardized scores for percent off market in two weeks and contract ratios, then subtracting median days on market (subtracted because lower numbers tend to indicate higher buyer demand).
This provided a value of housing demand relative to national demand in a given week for each metro area.

We then ranked all the metro areas on a standardized value for our Housing Demand Metric for the week of April 6, 2020 (lowest demand nationwide) and the most recent date (June 15, 2020 for most metros). 

To determine whether demand in a metro was increasing or decreasing, we estimated the change in rank for each metro by subtracting their initial rank from their recent rank. Metros with positive values were considered to have dropped in rank (i.e., their ranking value was higher) and those with negative values increased in rank position. 

All metros were then ordered/ranked based on their change in ranking between April 6 and June 15, 2020. 

You can find the raw data, along with calculations for our rankings here. Please cite this study if you choose to use calculated analyses found in this research.