'April will be more telling': Realtors unsure how COVID-19 will affect housing market

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
A sign advertises a house for sale in Glen Rock Borough Monday, April 13, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

While the real estate market in York County saw small growth in March, some Realtors said it's too early to tell how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the market.

Although 525 homes were sold in York County in March — a 2% increase from 2019 — the "vast majority" of these home sales were settled prior to March 19, which was when Gov. Tom Wolf ordered a shutdown of all nonessential businesses, said Sue Pindle, the president for the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties.

"April will be more telling," Pindle said. "The impacts of the current pandemic on the real estate market are yet to be seen."

Coming off a historic 2019 — which was marked as the fastest-moving market in the county, with houses on the market for an average of 23 days — the housing market started off strong in the new decade, according to statistics from RAYAC.

A sign advertises a house for sale in Glen Rock Borough Monday, April 13, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

And though the unprecedented escalation of coronavirus may seem like a concern for some real estate agents, officials with RAYAC said Realtors are adapting quickly to shuttered offices by utilizing technology to give virtual tours showcasing properties. 

"Going into the pandemic we had one of the strongest real estate markets in our history for York & Adams Counties," Pindle said in a news release. "That will serve us well as we work through the implications of these uncharted waters." 

In addition to virtual tours, Pindle said while some buyers are writing purchase contracts without physically viewing appraisals, most are waiting to buy until Wolf's stay-at-home order is lifted.

As of March 2020, the median sale price in York County was $182,350, a 1% increase from last year's $179,800. The average house sat on the market for 19 days in March, according to statistics. 

A sign advertises a house for sale in Glen Rock Borough Monday, April 13, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

There are 895 active listings right now, with 543 new listings since March 1 in York County, according to RAYAC. 

Pindle said many prospective buyers are choosing to hold off purchasing houses because of factors including job layoffs and Wolf's order to cease operations of all non-life-sustaining businesses due to COVID-19.

Additionally, caution among  buyers and sellers is linked with a decline in economic confidence and measures taken by officials to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing and closing businesses, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. 

"The virus affected the stock market, which can affect sellers' and buyers' financial ability to execute agreements," Pindle said. "(The housing market) will recover once the COVID-19 virus is conquered."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.