Central Ohio home sales slip as coronavirus fallout takes toll
Central Ohio home sales fell sharply in April and dropped to their lowest level in a decade nationally, as the coronavirus pandemic took full hold of the real estate market.
In the Columbus area, 2,277 homes changed hands during the month, down 15.1% from a year ago.
The number of homes under contract in April fell 19.1%, suggesting that May's sales figures will be even worse.
While demand for homes appeared to remain strong, sales were hampered by would-be sellers staying put during the pandemic. The number of central Ohio homes listed for sale plunged 27% in April from a year ago, further reducing the area's already low number of homes on the market.
The shortage of listings pushed the median price of a central Ohio home up 3% during the month to $220,000, as buyers competed for a handful of choices.
In another sign of buyer interest, homes that sold in April were snapped up in an average of 30 days, faster than a year ago, despite a global pandemic.
"Homes sold even more quickly in April than in the past few months," said Andy Mills, president of the Columbus Realtors trade group. "Given the 'shelter in place' order and additional challenges this presented for the closing process, this came as a bit of a surprise."
Demand remains especially robust for lower-priced homes. Homes under $350,000 had been listed an average of only 25 days before selling.
Statewide, sales were off 18.6% from a year ago, led by sharp drops in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo areas.
"The Ohio housing marketplace was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, as sales activity fell drastically in the days and weeks leading up to state issuing its 'stay at home order' on March 22," said Ohio Realtors President Chris Reese.
"We experienced a slowdown in showings, sellers removing their homes from the market and an overall desire to shelter in place for most of the month," Reese said.
Nationally, home sales fell 17.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.33 million in April, the lowest level since July 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Home prices, however, rose 7.4% across the country, driven by strong demand among first-time buyers and low interest rates.
"The economic lockdowns occurring from mid-March through April in most states have temporarily disrupted home sales," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors association. "But the listings that are on the market are still attracting buyers and boosting home prices."