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2020 Des Moines Housing Market Update – 1st Quarter

How’s 2020 going?

You know we love checking out the numbers behind the real estate here at Home Sweet Des Moines (for past market updates, click here: 2019 Update, 2018 Update). And, boy, 2020 started with a bang!  Compared to last year, we closed 368 more sales in the first quarter of 2020 vs the first quarter of 2019 (2019 1st Qtr Update, for reference).

However, the coronavirus has impacted real estate, and we have yet to see the full reverberations.

So, let’s talk about where we’ve been in 2020 before we talk about where we are (click here to skip ahead). As always, whether we have a seller’s market (less than three months of inventory available), a balanced market (three to six months of inventory available), or a buyer’s market (more than six months of inventory available) varies widely based on the price point.  You can see the seller’s market, balanced market, and buyer’s market price points below.

What does this mean?  Well, between last year and this year, we have very similar price points in seller’s markets, balanced markets, and buyer’s markets.  We are starting to see more and more builders jump, into more affordable housing, which should continue to ease the pressure on buyers in the lower price points.

Our New Normal

However, we do have some significant changes happening in the real estate market since mid-March.

  • Showings: The number of showings via ShowingTime has dropped significantly year-over-year. Here’s the chart showing the difference. We are also restricting showings so that they do not overlap and strongly suggest that only the decision makers attend the showing.  In addition, many agents will do a “virtual showing” using FaceTime, Zoom, or other technology.

  • Some Listings Postponed: Many sellers are choosing to wait to list their house for sale for now, especially if they do not need to move yet. They’re hesitant to have people in their homes on a regular basis, and don’t have a place to go during a showing anyway.
  • Listings on the Market: However, sellers that need to sell are still doing so. In response to the CDC guidelines, agents are setting up video tours online and filming “virtual showings”, asking that buyers review these materials before they schedule an in-person showing.
  • Loan Complications: Lenders are performing employment verification as close as possible to closing day, to ensure that buyers have not had income impacts from business closures. Rates have been volatile over the last few weeks; several lenders will stockpile all their pre-approvals and then watch the market to try to lock the lowest rate possible for their buyers.  Overall, interest rates are still low.
  • Buyers secure with their income, however, are still looking! We have fewer showings, but those showings tend to be very interested buyers.
  • Closings are now being done in the parking lot of the various law firms, to minimize people going into the buildings. But, hey, they’re still happening!


Here’s the bottom line: if you need to make a move, it can be done.  Buyers are still buying, and sellers are still selling.  We can help get you there.  Just be ready to be flexible with how we get you there!

And if you want to plan to make a move when things calm down, we can help you prepare starting now by having a virtual coffee date and chatting.

Email Nora or Tawnia if we can do anything for you.  Stay healthy and be kind!

* Sales prices in thousands.  This data includes all residential properties in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors (DMAAR).  For Sale By Owner homes may not be included.
** Seller’s markets are those with 0-3 months of inventory. Balanced markets are those with 3-6 months of inventory. Buyer’s markets are those with 6+ months of inventory.

*** Months of inventory determined by the last three months of sales numbers.