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North Texas home sales hammered by pandemic

April had the biggest annual decline in home sales in nine years. [TNS]
April had the biggest annual decline in home sales in nine years. [TNS]

DALLAS — North Texas home sales slid in April as buyers sheltered in place from the pandemic.

Home purchases in the area were down 17% from a year ago, the greatest such decline in nine years.

April's significant drop in home purchases is the first statistical evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on the area housing market.

Through the first three months of 2020, home sales were up 9% from the same period last year. But April's decline wiped out most of those gains.

Through the first four months of the year, North Texas real estate agents have sold 30,973 houses, up a scant 1% from a year ago, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

April's home purchases mostly reflect houses that were put under contract in March and late February in the early days of the pandemic.

But local housing analysts are hoping last month's declines are the worst.

"For the past three weeks, since Governor Abbott announced the reopening of business in Texas, builders have reported much improved sales, many getting back close to original weekly sales plans," said Ted Wilson, principal with Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies. "If existing home sales follow this pattern, my projection would be that April will be the low point, with some slight improvement in May and June."

Pending home sales — houses under contract but not yet sold — are down 22% from April 2019 levels.

Along with the drop in sales, fewer people are putting their homes on the market.

New single-family home listings are down 26% from where they were a year ago. And total inventory of homes on the market is 13% lower.

"Sellers are sitting on the sidelines and not because of the fear of not selling," said Paige Shipp, vice president of market research at CDCG Asset Management. "People weren't having friends over during the quarantine, so the last thing people wanted were strangers in their homes."

Tribune News Service