April home sales tumble 21%, prices steady as Houston real estate market absorbs COVID-19 shock

Amid social distancing orders, the Houston real estate market lost most of its 2020 momentum in April, seeing a 21% drop in year-over-year sales and a 20% drop in total dollar volume, according to data released by the Houston Association of Realtors.

“We were bracing for a rough report and we got it, and the numbers are likely to remain this way until more Realtors and consumers adapt to the use of virtual technology through HAR.com to safely market, tour and purchase or rent homes,” HAR Chairman John Nugent said in the data release.

Despite the drop, home prices held relatively steady. The median sales price for single-family homes rose 2.4% to $251,000, the highest price ever for April of any year, but the average price was flat at $310,331.

Every price point saw declines in sales volume, with significant drops in both the low and high ends of the market. Sales on homes valued at $750,000 and above fell 31.4%.

Leasing activity also fell, with 4.1% fewer singe-family home rentals and 9.5% fewer condo leases in April.

Year-to-date overall sales are still up 1.4% over last year, but projections are that 2020's early gains will not last. Stewart Title Chief Economist Ted C. Jones predicted full-year 2020 sales would be down 25%, according to the HAR release.

Even so, people are still shopping virtually for potential home purchases and leases.

"There is definitely no lack of consumer interest in real estate, as property listing views on HAR.com are up almost 60% from this time last year,” Nugent said.