The pandemic affected international real estate markets in strikingly different ways. Markets with stringent lockdowns saw new listings plummet by 90 percent, while other markets saw no change. And as the world begins to recover, the data suggests that the longer and more severe the lockdown, the faster the initial recovery.
The number of new listings coming to market is a key indicator of a healthy real estate marketplace, representing high-intent seller demand and available inventory. The decline in new listing volumes across seven countries has varied wildly, from no change to a 90 percent drop, depending on the market and its associated lockdown.
Unsurprisingly, the drop in new listing volumes is tightly correlated to the severity of lockdown imposed by national and local governments. Of the nations analyzed, Italy and the U.K. had the most stringent lockdowns, with many real estate activities deemed non-essential and severely limited. The drop in new listings was greatest in these markets: between 75-90 percent.
The Australian, U.S., and Canadian real estate markets were less restrictive, and the drop in new listings reflects that: 40-50 percent at a national level. In the U.S., that number varies greatly by state, with some markets (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York) mirroring the severe drop of up to 90 percent seen in the U.K. and Italy.
Most surprisingly, some markets were barely affected. The Netherlands and Sweden imposed “intelligent lockdowns” far less restrictive than many other countries. As a result, The Netherlands in particular hasn’t seen a significant drop in new listings; rather, it’s enjoying annual highs. Interestingly, new listing volumes in Sweden have seen a limited, delayed decline — about a month after most other markets — of 20 percent.
Web site and mobile traffic to real estate portals suffered an expected drop, but quickly recovered in most of the markets analyzed.
Once again, markets with “intelligent lockdowns” — The Netherlands and Sweden — saw less of a drop and are currently experiencing annual highs. Australia and the U.S. quickly recovered and are up from last year, while the U.K. lagged behind due to its stringent lockdown (why browse when the market is closed).
A less restrictive lockdown doesn’t directly affect someone’s browsing behavior. But the closer to “normal” a lockdown is, the more consumers will continue their normal portal browsing behavior.
A Fast Recovery
Based on the evidence from the U.K. and Italy, it appears that the longer and more severe the lockdown, the faster the recovery. Both countries have seen a surge in new listing volumes after restrictions were lifted, a signal of strong pent-up demand. The following chart shows the rise in new listings after the U.K. reopened the housing market on May 13th.