TUPELO • While the economic fallout from the coronavirus has been widespread, the housing market has managed to hold its own.

During March and through mid-April, sales of new and existing homes plummeted. But since, the numbers are trending back up.

According to Zillow, new listings dropped to a low of 43.8% on April 17 before reversing course. The most recent estimates place listings down 37.7% year-over-year.

In Northeast Mississippi, a low inventory of homes has kept it a seller’s market.

Meredith Martin, a Realtor with Tommy Morgan Inc. Realtors in Tupelo, has been busy during the past few weeks showing and selling homes.

“People buy and sell real estate for a myriad of reasons. During this time of pandemic I have seen that trend continue as new people move to our area while others, possibly on the fence about moving pre-pandemic, decided the property where they shelter in place is not right for them long term,” she said. “Are they smart to do so? Absolutely! COVID-19 came onto the scene during a low housing inventory period, or seller’s market, while demand for housing has remained high.”

Joe Lowder is looking to sell his custom-built, three-bedroom, 3,600-square-foot home after three years. The home sits on six acres, but he and his wife are looking to downsize.

A smaller lot has been purchased, and on it will be a swimming pool, something the current home doesn’t have.

“We were looking to sell, and the only way I can say that COVID-19 has affected is that before, I was ready to start building,” he said. “But I think now we’ll wait til the house sells. Or we may find a place to rent temporarily. That’s the main thing that COVID has done.”

In fact, Martin said housing sales are going through a surge despite the low inventory and the economic uncertainty.

“Top it all off with some of the lowest interest rates we have experienced, and the time to buy or sell is now,” she said.

The Northeast Mississippi Board of Realtors is comprised of real estate agents in the seven-county area of Lee, Pontotoc, Itawamba, Prentiss, Union, Chickasaw and Monroe. In March, there were about 325 listings. Typically there are twice and three times that.

Zillow economist Jeff Tucker said while overall real estate transactions and new listings have fallen, prices haven’t been significantly affected.

In a weekly survey, 74% of real estate agents said their clients have not reduced listing prices to attract buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. There is clearly no panic selling, despite the uncertainty.

With two younger kids and his wife returning to work, Lowder said they were looking for a smaller house and yard to manage

But, “if the house doesn’t sell, we love the place and we’ll stay here,” Lowder said. “We’ll try and see what happens.”

Martin said she doesn’t think selling the Lowder home will take too long.

“People are buying, there’s no doubt,” she said.

After a short burst of activity, Zillow expects a 10% increase in home sales each month once recovery begins. According to Zillow’s model, the housing market will reach February’s pre-pandemic highs in late 2021.


Twitter: @dennisseid

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