We’re continuing to track and assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on showing traffic throughout North America. To provide context to the data, ShowingTime Chief Analytics Officer Daniil Cherkasskiy is providing regular analysis of the trends that the data reveal. We will continue to update this page with Cherkasskiy’s analysis, with the most recent update appearing below.
April 7 was the first day this spring since March 11 when the showing traffic increased week over week. On March 30 we were almost flat, but slightly negative; this time, Wednesday was 2 percent above the previous week. The situation also feels more stable, as most states are either posting steady gains in traffic or staying flat and have had steady trends pointing that direction over the last week, as the decline slowed and even reversed slightly. Only 12 states were negative, and other than Indiana, Missouri and Georgia, were pretty much within margin of error. At the same time, 12 states posted 10 percent-plus increases from a week ago. To me, this broad correlated movement across states suggests that unless there are major new unexpected developments, we can assume that the adjustment from the immediate effects of the pandemic is complete.
Next weekend, data will be somewhat confusing as the traffic always declines on the Easter weekend and then compensates for it slightly early in the following week, but please continue to check back for updates.
The week-over-week declines continue to slow, although the decline has continued as we were down 8 percent week over week. As we discussed previously, the decline is happening in markets that haven’t slowed down as much to date and is partially offset by moderate rebounds in markets that had dropped the most in previous weeks.
Showings picked up from yesterday, although they are still down 10 percent week over week. Part of the increase came because of strong gains in Texas, and the jump in showings in New York after the state reconsidered and included real estate on the list of essential services.
Although earlier in the week we had a slight up day from last week, overall this week will post a further decline of about 15 percent from a week ago, even though traffic has stabilized in some states. Tomorrow, our team will take another look at the dynamics for different price bands.
Showing traffic trends do not have a clearly defined direction, driven by local situation and state government actions. We will spend some time reassessing different aspects of the slowdown now unless a pronounced trend emerges again.
Today we took a look at the cancellation dynamics, for example, while the adjustment was going at full speed. Usually 18 to 19 percent of showings get cancelled, rescheduled or declined by either side. Cancellations often require extensive coordination by our employees, so we track the aspect closely. In the last two weeks, this percentage has climbed noticeably to 22 to 23 percent, which is about a 13 percent increase. I would’ve expected those levels to be even higher. In the last week, however, the cancellation rate has dropped to return to normal levels.
Looking at yesterday’s data, we’re definitely seeing signs of stabilization. At this point 33 of the states (roughly 70 percent) we track have either had cautious rebounds from a week ago or remained at the same level. Twelve states have posted 20 percent-plus increases in daily traffic from a week ago. This, of course, must be taken with a grain of salt, as these rebounds are from unprecedentedly low levels. However, even overall the national 7-day moving average seems to have stabilized and appears flat over the last two to three days for the entire North American region, which suggests to me that the adjustment might be complete. We’ll continue to report how the week progresses in the coming days to see if this situation persists.
Looking at the numbers over the weekend, showing traffic continued to subside, but at a significantly lower rate compared to last week. It’s important to note that for the first time this week in 20 states the week over week traffic remained in line with last week’s, either rising or declining slightly by less than 5 percent — a normal range of variation around this time of year. If the current trend continues, we should be stabilizing within a week in terms of overall traffic.
During the last few days traffic has been holding steady at about 33 percent off of last week’s levels. In the last two weeks we have seen drastic reductions over the weekend. We will monitor the situation over the weekend to see whether this patterns continue or whether we will stay at the current level.
While the 7-day moving average continues to head down, daily traffic ticked up on Wednesday compared to Tuesday. If we compare this Wednesday to the top Wednesday on record for each state, the median decline in showings is 50 percent. There are only three states that declined by about 30 percent: Nebraska, New Hampshire and Minnesota.
After the adjustment we saw on Monday (a 37 percent drop from already suppressed previous Monday), Tuesday traffic was consistent with Monday’s without further day-to-day declines. It might be that traffic is adjusting over the weekend while remaining at the “new normal” rate during the rest of the week, but we will need to get more data points on this. Of course, government actions last week were mostly timed prior to or on the weekend, which might have contributed to this pattern.
On Monday, showing traffic slowed down further on the adjusted basis. A significant contributing factor was of course the industry responding responsibly to government actions. In some states showing requests were down more than 90 percent over the last two weeks. In most other states however, showing traffic continues, albeit at rates of 35-45 percent below where it was two weeks ago.
Sunday was another data point showing a “normal” day-to-day fluctuation at this abnormally low level of activity. Sunday traffic declined from Saturday, but not beyond the range expected given the daily count for the preceding week.
My hypothesis is that the “optional” housing activity that buyers and sellers could postpone was already delayed, and the activity still happening is more likely to involve buyers and sellers who, due to their life circumstances, cannot delay the process. A quick analysis of how showings declined by price supports this. If we look at the magnitude of the slowdown across different price ranges below, we can see that homes $300K suffered 35-45 percent declines in showing traffic over the last two weeks, while homes above $500K are still being shown, albeit with temporary declines in the 50-60 percent range.
Saturday activity typically drops 5-15 percent from Friday’s level and that’s exactly what we saw yesterday. This again suggests that in most cases we are continuing to be at a plateau, as opposed to a continuous state of decline. National numbers are down 38 percent from a week ago and 45 percent from two weeks ago, which is the last normal Saturday we had on record. If you look at the state level median and average decline over the last two weeks, we’re close and in the 36-38 percent range. Larger states declined more on average, possibly because of government action. Interestingly enough, we continue to see substantial, albeit subdued, appointment traffic in all states we cover.
Probably the most important insight for me, is that we are now at a 5-day plateau, not in free-fall mode. The daily traffic adjusted abruptly over last weekend, but since then the daily showing rate has been steady, even though the 7-day average we report continues to plunge. If this holds up through the weekend, by Monday the decline should “hockey stick.”
Here are the daily numbers:
We’ll see how things change in the coming days with the continued pandemic trends and government interventions.
Even though 7-day moving average (MA) continues to show substantial declines, today was the second consecutive day in which daily traffic actually saw a slight day-to-day increase. We’ll monitor this further, and we’ll soon know whether the adjustment actually happened over last weekend and stopped at this interim plateau 30 percent down from normal levels, or whether the declines will continue.
Yesterday was the first day in which there was no significant day-to-day decline in scheduled home showings. The 7-day MA continues to drop, but Wednesday’s daily traffic had an anticipated uptick from Tuesday and both days were roughly 30 percent off the levels expected under normal circumstances.
Yesterday we went down another 4 percent in showing traffic on adjusted basis, which is a significant daily decrease. It seems that the markets that are slowing down the most are essentially from the same group of markets that also felt the greatest impact in the 2008 housing crash.
As of last Wednesday, the impact of COVID-19 on the market was unclear. Over the weekend, however, we began to see definite signs of a slowdown. We estimate that the drop off in home showings is currently at about 11 percent.
We’ve started closely tracking the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on real estate markets throughout North America. Assessing the data so far, we’ve not yet seen a significant drop in national buyer activity, though I think we will see the effects of COVID-19 in the week to come.
We compared the buildup of appointments in 2019 vs. 2020, tracking the 7-day moving average (MA) indexed to the first full week of the year. For context, a typical March week in 2019 was up 30 percent from the first full week in January.
The last 7 days in 2020 were about 40 percent above the first full week of 2020. What’s important is that we haven’t yet seen a dip in the weekly showing traffic as we usually would during major snowstorms. The data come from 100 of our top markets and are through March 12, 2020. In some markets we are seeing the traffic soften, but it’s not a sharp decrease; rather, we’re seeing the lack of week-over-week increases that are expected at this time of the year.