Zillow has unparalleled information on the housing market, including Zestimates for more than 100 million U.S. homes, local market information for nearly 1,000 metro areas and a team of economists that provide unbiased analysis and insights. During these uncertain times, Zillow recognizes there is an even greater need to provide actionable information and guidance.
As the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, Zillow’s team of economists and data analysts looked back at the impacts of past health crises to see what lessons could be learned. During the 2003 SARS epidemic, for example, home sales slowed, but prices remained stable and the market recovered quickly once the outbreak subsided.
While the past can reveal clues about how today’s outbreak might play out, this is an unprecedented situation. Housing was on solid footing heading into March, and even appeared ready to hit the gas according to the February Zillow Market Report. In data that Zillow reports each month, home value growth accelerated in February after a 21-month slowdown, and rock-bottom inventory seemed to set the stage for one of the most competitive home shopping seasons in recent memory.
But early signs show the market is slowing as buyers and sellers come to terms with economic uncertainty as well as the health-related limitations imposed as a response to the coronavirus. The economy’s downturn may lead people to shy away from big-ticket purchases like homes, and “stay-at-home” policies are making it more difficult to show homes in a traditional way.
Home sellers, buyers, renters and their agents have begun to adapt by increasingly turning to technology. In the last week of March, the number of 3D Home tours created on Zillow was more than five times greater than an average week in February. Potential buyers and renters are finding this feature useful as listings with a 3D Home tour received about 50% more visitors and were saved about 60% more frequently.
In addition to market trends, Zillow looks at how these economic forces impact people. As widespread closures and layoffs hit the food and retail sectors, Zillow studied rent affordability concerns for workers in these industries. Zillow’s estimates show that typical single earners who miss two months of work would need to spend 37.4% of their income on rent alone, even with a $1,200 stimulus check from the federal government’s CARES Act. That’s up from 33.6% under the status quo and well above the 30% rule of thumb for what a household should aim to spend on housing.
Things are changing quickly, and market-moving news and reports seem to come out every day. To help navigate this, Zillow has distilled the key numbers and stats into regular Market Pulse reports that provide context about what it all means.
As Zillow continues to study how housing will be affected by COVID-19, future reports can be found on the Zillow Research webpage. The site also shares practical advice about DIY projects and getting your home ready to sell, and lighter looks at how millions of people are suddenly adjusting to working from home.
Zillow also launched a new resource center with timely information to help those navigating buying, renting and selling during COVID-19, or to simply be inspired to redecorate and find new ways to appreciate home.