Coronavirus impact

Houston home listings take a dip thanks to COVID-19

Houston home listings take a dip thanks to COVID-19

House for sale sign
New home listings in Houston are actually up — despite coronavirus.  Photo by fstop123/Getty Images

We're coming up on the best time to list your Houston house, but thanks to COVID-19, the real estate landscape looks pretty different this year. Zillow reports that 3-D home tours are up 408 percent from February, and newly listed homes nationwide were down 27.1 percent from a year ago in the first week of April.

But it's not quite as bad in Houston. While the rest of the U.S. is seeing a 19 percent drop in new listings since March 1, 2020, Houston is actually up 1.9 percent.

Active listings here are also up 3.9 percent since the same period. Total U.S. inventory, meanwhile, has only grown by 2.5 percent since March 1, which likely correlates to homes sitting on the market for longer.

"It is clear that many would-be home sellers are adopting a wait-and-see approach as uncertainty continues to rule," says Skylar Olsen, senior principal economist at Zillow. "Our understanding of U.S. economic conditions is changing weekly, if not daily, and early unemployment figures are striking, so it's understandable that some are hesitant to put their home on the market.

"It is possible that this year's busy home shopping season is pushed into winter as some opt to hang back, but activity continues from those who need to buy or sell for a job move or another major life event. What's not likely is that the bulk of potential home sellers and buyers simply throw up their hands and pull back from the market entirely."

By March 1, 2020, new listings in Houston were up 6.8 percent from the same time a year ago. Fast-forward just a month, and that number was down 8.7 percent. The outlook in Houston is definitely brighter than what's happening nationwide: nationwide listings were up 17.3 percent on March 1 and down a significant 27.1 percent by April 5.

Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth has seen a 18 percent decrease in new listings from March to April of this year, and listings are also down 17.2 percent from April 2019.

San Antonio is an outlier, remaining neutral at zero percent change in new listings from March 1-April 5, 2020, and only down 11.8 percent from April 2019.

But Austin is truly bucking the trend, with new listings up 12.8 percent in the past month, for a year-over-year increase of 13.5 percent.

The greatest slowdowns in new listings since March 1 were seen in Detroit (down 61.8 percent), Pittsburgh (down 55.5 percent), and New York (down 49.1 percent). But new listings were actually up or flat in 12 of the 35 largest U.S. metros, led by Phoenix (up 18.3 percent), Atlanta (up 15.6 percent), Sacramento (up 13.7 percent), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 13.7 percent).