Why Are Homes Selling So Fast This Summer as Lockdowns Lift?

After a slow spring for the real estate market, buyers are now snatching up homes quicker than usual.

If you're looking to buy a home this summer, it's likely you'll have to act fast. Homes are currently flying off the market at their quickest pace in the past two years, according to a new report from Zillow.

The online real estate marketplace analyzed the average number of days it took for new listings on the site to switch from "active" to "pending," which indicates the seller has an offer but hasn't yet closed the deal. During the second week of June, homes sold in the U.S. typically remained on the market for just 22 days. In comparison, the average listing hasn't sold that fast since June 2018.

Front of blue house with white accents
Stacy Zarin Goldberg Photography LLC

Minneapolis-area real estate advisor Mike Fuchs attributes the faster-than-usual pace to a low inventory of for-sale homes. "The main driver of this is demand outpacing supply," he says, noting that the number of homes currently for sale in his area is down 20.7% compared to last year. "With so few homes on the market, buyers have no choice but to act quickly."

Mike Fuchs, real estate advisor

With so few homes on the market, buyers have no choice but to act quickly.

— Mike Fuchs, real estate advisor

Although the first three months of 2020 started off strong (homes sold an average of 5 days faster at the end of March compared to the previous year), the real estate market slowed down in April and May as the coronavirus pandemic led to stay-at-home orders and business closures. The low point hit in the week ending May 16, when homes took 31 days on average to go pending, which is six days slower than the same time period in 2019. Similarly, between the beginning of March and mid-April, the number of newly pending sales dropped by 40%, indicating that purchasing a new home was not a top priority for many amid the pandemic.

Now, as states begin to lift virus-related restrictions, home buyers appear to be ready to start shopping again. "While there is still a ton of uncertainty, many of my active buyers are more confident in their job situation at this point than in March or even April," Fuchs says. "With many families spending more time at home and many people working from home, I have also seen a surge in demand for people who wanted more space and might be buying sooner than originally planned." And to adapt to the new normal as the pandemic continues, many real estate companies now offer virtual home tours in place of traditional open houses or in-person showings.

It's important to note, however, that this nationwide home-buying trend isn't necessarily reflected across all areas of the U.S. Some housing markets, such as the New York City and Miami metro areas, where buyers tend to move slower even in normal times, have actually seen an increase in the typical days-to-pending.

In other areas, the fast-paced trend is particularly exaggerated. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for example, the average number of days for homes on the market in mid-June dropped from 27 to 10 compared to the same time last year. And in Columbus, Ohio, the average home now lasts just five days on the market.

Buying and selling a home can be unpredictable, as it's difficult to guess how long the process will take. But if you're thinking of putting your home on the market, now might be a good time. (In fact, newly pending sales are up 14% compared to last month.) And a word of advice for potential homebuyers: Be prepared to scoop up your dream home as soon as you find it.

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