By Catherine Reagor| April 26th, 2020
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Metro Phoenix median home price hit a record in March, but most of the sales that drove the price up to $302,500 were negotiated before COVID-19 hit.

The forecast for April is a slight dip in home prices to a median of about $300,000, according to pending sales tracked by the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.

Part of the projected slip in the area’s median home price this month will be due to more lower-priced homes listed for sale after the coronavirus started shaking the economy in mid-March.

Housing expert Tom Ruff of ARMLS’s Information Market group said many of those listings are likely highly leveraged short-term rentals that owners need to sell quickly.

Those listings might give first-time buyers who have been outbid by investors a break, which would lead to more sales. But that trend hasn't shown up in the weekly indicators yet.

Tracking market by the week instead of month

Housing analysts in the novel coronavirus pandemic are comparing home sales and prices by the week instead of by the month.

Ruff said the number of homes for sale climbed during the last week of March, likely due to some panicked sellers.

Listings now are falling again with the number of homes for sale down 12% from April 2019.

“Both buyers and sellers have taken a step back,” he said.

Valley home sales are expected to drop about 30% in April.

Housing front lines

Real estate agent Christa Lawcock of Realty Executives now hosts a weekly video meeting with Phoenix real estate agents to share information to navigate the real estate market during COVID-19.

“The sky is not falling on the real estate market,” Lawcock said. “Homes priced right are still getting multiple offers, but it’s not as competitive as it was.”

She and some other agents on the call are still holding open houses, following distance guidelines.

What other real estate agents are seeing:

  • One agent listed a home in central Phoenix priced below $500,000 last week. She showed the house to 10 different potential buyers and had three offers within three days.
  • Another agent said the market “went quiet” two weeks ago but now is picking back up.
  • Several of the real estate agents on the video call say most of the buyers they are seeing are local, though some from out-of-state are doing virtual tours.
  • “Overall people feel that housing prices will fall and foreclosures are on the horizon. They are nervous,” said Debbie English of HomeSmart. “I am telling them that because of low inventory that is not going to be the case.”

Ruff is optimistic metro Phoenix’s housing market won’t take a long-term hit due to the coronavirus, but he predicts the area's home sales likely will be down in May, too.

"The biggest challenge I’ve faced in COVID-19 analysis is trying to anticipate the drop in sales volume over the next couple of months," he said. 

 Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8040. Follow her on Twitter @Catherinereagor.

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