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April 16, 2020

Despite COVID-19 fears, Hartford area home sales surge in March

Greater Hartford’s homebuying market continued to soar in March despite industry fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would stifle sales amid stay-at-home measures implemented by the state. 

There were 476 single-family home sales in the Hartford area last month, up 44 sales, or nearly 10.2% compared to March 2019, the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors (GHAR) said Thursday afternoon.

Median prices for homes also increased in March to an average of $244,450, up almost 4% from $235,500 in the same month last year, GHAR said.

The March report is good news for an industry that is bracing for the negative effects of COVID-19 shutdowns. A survey of more than 3,000 members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) last month said buyer interest is falling sharply as cases of COVID-19 mount nationwide.

In 2020, year-over-year sales have increased 7.1% to 1,245 from 1,162 a year earlier, and the median price has jumped 10.6% to $239,000.

Condo sales, meantime, fell about 12% to 118 units, but their median sale price surged 17.4% to $182,000.

GHAR CEO Holly Callanan said the region’s March housing report does not reflect the economic challenges created by the spread of the novel coronavirus. But it’s still too early to tell how much of a blow the health crisis could deliver to the industry, she added.

“We will likely see how Covid-19 impacts housing in the months ahead,” Callanan said. “I am optimistic that the market will remain strong despite any short-term effects.”

Nationally, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, said he’s encouraged by recent sales activity but said the early numbers do not reflect the significant blow the economy is experiencing as a result of the virus and the subsequent calls for social distancing. 

“These figures show that housing was on a positive trajectory, but the coronavirus has undoubtedly slowed buyer traffic and it is difficult to predict what short-term effects the pandemic will have on future sales,” Yun said.

Joe Cooper is HBJ’s web editor and real estate writer. He pens “The Real Deal” column about commercial real estate.

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