Buyer demand in the Philadelphia metropolitan area came back stronger in June than in most other metro areas from a nationwide April slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by Clever Real Estate.
The region saw the 10th largest increase in buyer demand among the most populous metropolitan areas from April to June, according to the company, an online referral service that connects customers to real estate agents. Clever Real Estate compared metropolitan markets on April 6, the date when buyer demand was at its lowest nationally, and June 15, the most recent weekly data available at the time.
Buyer demand rebounded the most during that period in the metropolitan areas of Albany, N.Y.; Houston; and Harrisburg. Increases in rank relative to other regions reflect higher buyer demand in these regions and lower demand in others.
Philadelphia’s market was busy early this year, before the start of the spring season, which is normally reliably strong, but that slowed during the early months of the pandemic.
Luna Ge, a real estate agent at Canaan Realty, which has offices in Center City and Mayfair, said buyers are more comfortable visiting properties now than they were early in the pandemic. Ge, who works mostly as a listing agent, said her clients are fielding several offers on their homes.
“It’s crazier than ever for me, because a lot of people are ready to list,” she said. “It’s really busy. It’s like it’s the beginning of the year, like springtime for me.”
In April, 18% of houses in the Philadelphia metropolitan area sold within two weeks of listing, according to Clever Real Estate’s analysis. In June, 45% of houses sold within two weeks.
Some of Ge’s older clients are waiting to list their properties until next year because they worry about the virus. Similar sentiments from some buyers across the region are contributing to the continued lack of houses to pick from.
The number of active listings in the Philadelphia region dropped from April to June by about 100 to roughly 1,030. In June, more of the houses listed were pending sales.
Regions where the pandemic hit earlier, such as Philadelphia, are on the rebound now that states have lifted lockdowns, said Francesca Ortegren, a data scientist at Clever Real Estate. Generally, areas where the pandemic hit later have seen bigger drops in buyer demand more recently.
“Philly has had a little bit of time to recover from that initial slump,” Ortegren said.
Galit Abramovitz Winokur, a Realtor at Compass Real Estate who specializes in Center City, said real estate agents got creative to continue transactions during the pandemic, but after the region lifted pandemic restrictions in May, “my phone was pretty much blowing up.” Buyers who wanted to tour houses in person restarted plans they had been forced to pause.
“I’ve been steadily busy in the last two months or so,” Winokur said.
One of her clients is selling an Airbnb property to buy a beach house, one of several sellers looking to unload their investment properties, she said.
Another woman Winokur talked with last week lives in Florida but plans to move with her family to Philadelphia in the next six to nine months. She and her husband don’t have any ties to the region, but she is a stay-at-home mom and her husband has a job that doesn’t depend on his location. The woman is a city person who has always liked Philadelphia and doesn’t want the congestion of New York City, which the family can’t afford anyway. So Philly makes an attractive choice.
“She wanted a more relaxed city lifestyle,” Winokur said.