Champaign County area home sales remained strong in March, reflecting a flurry of activity occurring early in the month prior to the global coronavirus pandemic slowdown.
Champaign County area home sales rose 12.06 percent compared to March 2019 while there were also increases in both median and average home sale prices, according to the Champaign County Association of REALTORS®. CCAR reported there were 223 sales in March, compared to 199 sales in March 2019.
The March median home sale price for the Champaign County area stood at $155,000, up 6.9 percent from $145,000 in March a year ago. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.
“The housing market was solid heading into March as gains were reported in the month for both home sales and home sale prices over one year ago. Real estate is deemed an “essential service” in Illinois and safety precautions are being taken to limit showing activity to ‘essential’ showings only following social distancing rules,” said Julie Roth, president of the Champaign County Association of REALTORS®. “While open houses are not allowed currently, many REALTORS® are adapting and conducting virtual showings using technology via video, Skype, Facebook Live and other virtual staging options to showcase properties to avoid unnecessary traffic. Closings are being done with social distancing precautions in mind and limited to signing partners only and electronically in some cases.”
During March there were 262 pending home sales reported, down by 10.3 percent from 292 pending sales in March of 2019. Pending sales for the month of March reflect the total number of active listings that went under contract and are awaiting closing, usually 30 to 60 days in the future. The March data is probably the last to reflect the pre-pandemic impact on home sales, indicates Roth.
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation was 3.45 percent in March, down from 3.47 percent in February and down from 4.26 percent in March of 2019. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.31 percent for the week ending April 16th. Mortgage rates continue to hover near all-time lows for the third straight week.
“Buyers are still searching for homes online and through drive-by viewings to narrow down their search before conducting any physical visits,” said Roth. “Once the all-clear signal is given and the economy reopens, we hope to see a post-pandemic market rebound with more listings coming on the market along with an influx of buyers with pent-up demand.”
According to the latest National Association of REALTORS® Economic Pulse Flash Survey conducted, April 12-13, one quarter of Realtors® with clients putting contracts on homes had at least one do so without physically seeing the property.
“Expect second-quarter home sales activity to slow down with the broad observance of stay-at-home orders, but sales will pick up when the economy reopens as many potential home buyers and sellers indicate they’re still in the market or will be in a couple of months,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Home prices remain stable as deals continue to happen with the growing use of new technology tools. Remarkably, 10% of Realtors® report the same level or even more business activity now than before the economic lockdown.”
Roth is hopeful the stimulus package may actually have helped some first-time buyers with funds necessary to meet their downpayment requirements.
The Champaign County Association of REALTORS® is a voluntary trade organization serving Champaign County and surrounding areas and is the leading resource for REALTOR® members and an advocate for homeownership and private property rights. Data compiled by Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC as available on April 14, 2020.
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The Champaign County Association of REALTORS® is the "Voice for Real Estate" in the Champaign County area of Illinois, whose over 400 members are engaged in all facets of the real estate industry. CCAR was chartered in 1917.
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