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The decrease in home listings highlights seller decisions to halt sales and see how market conditions play out as coronavirus stay-at-home orders have led 30 million Americans to lose their jobs, crippling the U.S. economy.
"The good momentum we saw at the start of the year has helped to somewhat insulate the housing market from the coronavirus' negative impact on buyer and seller confidence across the U.S.," Reator.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement. "Although we saw sharp drops in new listings, an increase in the time it takes to sell a home and a flattening of prices in April, May is likely to see some of these metrics worsen."
She added that the impact on the housing market "will depend on how effective the country is at containing the virus and how the economy responds."
If the economy experiences a positive reboot, sellers "could see buyers returning to the market aggressively this summer to make up for the spring they lost," Hale said.
The U.S. median listing price increased 0.6% year-over-year to $320,000 — about 3.2% less than March's median listing price increase of 3.8%, the website said.
Economists from real estate search website Zillow said in a Monday forecast that home sales could plummet by 60% in the spring, and prices will drop by about 3% by the end of 2020. Home sales should increase by roughly 10% per month through 2021, the economists said.
The total number of home sales dropped 15.3% year-over-year, and none of the country's 50 largest metro areas saw an increase in inventory year-over-year. Inventory declined by 16% overall, according to Realtor.com.
Metro areas that saw the largest declines in inventory include Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. (-46.1%); Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (-38.7%); and Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. (-29.3%), the website reported.
Pre-crisis, the spring was expected to be the "hottest shopping season" in years, powered by record-low interest rates, higher-buyer demand and an increasing share of millennials entering prime first-time homebuyer age.
The good news is that those underlying dynamics still exist to help fuel the housing market's recovery from the virus outbreak. The industry has also adapted to the era with new tech tools that enable social distancing. Already, new listings and pending sales have grown.
The overall effect on prices will be modest compared to the 2008 financial crisis, when sales plunged by 25 percent and took five years to recover.
FOX Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.