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Call it a mixed bag for the real estate market in April and May with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting into sales and the availability of homes for sale but the data showed an increase in the median selling price compared to the same period last year.
Dave Cummings, media communications director for the
, summed up the most significant impact of the virus in one word: inventory.
Data from the association shows new listings down 40 percent in April and 31 percent in May compared to the same two months in 2019.
“We still have people buying but there is an inventory issue,” Cummings said. “Sellers are on the fence.”
The reason, Cummings said, is many potential sellers are just not comfortable with letting people in their house during the pandemic. Other figures that reveal the pandemic’s impact include a 32% decrease in the number of homes for sale in April and 40% in May compared to those same months in 2019. The number of closed sales fell 10 percent in April and 25 percent in May compared to 2019.
Among the pieces of good news in the most recent data is an increase of 11.5 % in the median sales price of a home in New Hampshire in April and 6.6 % percent in May compared to April and May, 2019.
“If you have a listing and the property is priced appropriately, it is selling,” Cummings said. “We are seeing more multiple offers and offers above the asking price. Sellers continue to have an advantage.”
The “days on the market” figure for 2019 was 70 but so far, for this year, it is at 50, a good indication there is demand for single-family houses.
Cumming said last May the market hit a historic low in listings and this year the figure is down 40% from that number with about 3,000 homes on the market compared to almost 5,500 last June.
“That is at the heart of the lower sales,” he said.
On a positive note, Cummings said this downturn is not at all like the great recession and as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic, inventory numbers should rise.
“The good news is that the fundamentals of the economy remain sound,” he said.
Another figure that bodes well for the market to rebound is the number of pending sales for May, which were up nearly 1 percent over May 2019 versus a drop of 20.5 percent in April of this year compared to 2019.
The closed sales figures had begun to rebound in 2019 with increases each month from September to January of this year before the effects of the pandemic began to be felt in late February and the stay-at-home orders were instituted with the forced shutdown of many businesses by Gov. Chris Sununu. On June 16, the governor lifted the ban on Realtors holding open houses to show homes and having clients come to the real estate office but it is unclear whether potential sellers will begin to feel more comfortable with those restrictions no longer in place.
“There is just an incredible amount of uncertainty now,” Cummings said. “There is still reluctance on the selling side.”
Claremont Realtor Bonnie Miles, with Coldwell Banker, echoed much of what Cummings said about the market based on her experience.
Recently Miles said she put up a new listing and within days had an offer, which she said usually does not happen that fast.
“I think as soon as people put a house on the market it is going to sell as long as it is priced right,” Miles said. “Now is not the time to offer less. I am pleased with what I am seeing.”
But Miles also agrees that some sellers are still wary of COVID-19.
“Some have said to me ‘I don’t want anybody in my house because of COVID-19,’” Miles said.
In early April, Suzanne Damon, CEO of Damon Home Team with Re/Max Insight in Manchester, said she expected a poor second quarter (April, May and June) but a vast improvement over the summer and into the fourth quarter.
Comparing the figures of closed sales, pending sales and new listings, Damon’s predictions seem to be on target.
For the Manchester area, closed sales for the single-family and condo market were at 48 compared to 44 for the same period last year while pending sales were 35 versus 30 for the same two week period in 2020 and 2019. New listings for the first two weeks of June in the Manchester market came in at 61 this year compared to 82 last year.
“The lack of supply with housing is the biggest obstacle that consumers face today,” Damon said in an email. “With that we have to look at supply and demand and how this impacts pricing. Really, the story right now on pricing is that appreciation is being driven by the lack of supply across New Hampshire.”
Damon said the state has less than two months of inventory on market for the number of buyers; “literally an undersupply of homes on the market.” The result is an upward pressure on price for sellers willing to put their house on the market.
Breaking the market down by counties, the median sales price was up in all counties except Coos and Grafton and the number of days a house was on the market was down in all counties except for Coos and Grafton.
Cummings said at some point the pent up supply of inventory will get on the market and he expects Realtors to being doing a “brisk” business.
“We just don’t know when that will be.”
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