Sellers—Particularly in the Higher End—Return to Market

Confidence is percolating among home sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the nation’s first hotspots for the coronavirus and now one of the first to see its housing market rebound.

“I have one to three sellers asking me to list their home every day—that is something that has never happened,” said Suzanne Masella, who’s been selling real estate in the greater Oakland area since the 1970s. News that offers are coming in hot has spurred a sudden flurry of sellers to get their homes on the market and fast.

“Sellers are all kind of shocked that the offers are coming in this quickly,” Ms. Masella said. “Everyone expected demand to go nowhere… This is like the most competitive market we’ve ever had, but on steroids.”

Now, she said, “word is getting out that this is the time to sell.”

More: After Initial Plunge, San Francisco Sees Uptick in Real Estate Market

Housing inventory in every segment nationwide plummeted in March and April as homeowners yanked their listings from the marketplace amid stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic that made showings difficult or impossible, or out of concern over the economy. But as regions gradually open up, it appears the nation’s luxury housing segment, including expensive cities and vacation markets, is leading the recovery, according to inventory data from Redfin and analyzed by the Dow Jones Market Data Team. (Mansion Global is a Dow Jones publication)   

U.S. housing inventory across more than 375 metro areas continued to decline from around the peak of the national outbreak on April 1 through mid-May, even as many states and regions began relaxing stay-at-home orders and reopening businesses. Total inventory was down more than 4% in the week ending May 16 compared to April 1, indicating that sellers remained reluctant to put homes back up for sale.

But confidence among luxury home sellers has been more resilient, as the inventory of homes asking $1 million or more rose 1% during that same timeframe, according to our analysis.

Northern California’s Market Awakens From the COVID-19 Shutdown

Confidence has been particularly strong in parts of Northern California, including Oakland, Silicon Valley and San Francisco—where most indoor retail, summer camps and outdoor dining will reopen by mid-June. House hunters were able to tour empty properties during most of California’s stay-at-home order in March and April, but authorities expanded that a few weeks ago to include occupied homes, kickstarting activity again, Ms. Masella said.

More: A Renovated San Francisco Rowhouse—Once Home to Meg Ryan—Asks $20 Million

“A lot of occupied homes that we’d taken off the market, we were able to put them back on,” she said. The burst of activity has even paid off for homes that languished throughout the crisis.

“A lot of the homes that were sitting and…

Read MoreSellers—Particularly in the Higher End—Return to Market

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