Despite sales falling in many other states across the nation amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Iowa real estate has managed to achieve the opposite.

Sales in the Des Moines area are up 15.9 percent year-over-year from March 2019 to March 2020, according to the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors. Similarly, data from the Cedar Rapids metro area is also showing that sales are up a few percentage points from March of last year.

Other real estate professionals around the country may be wondering: What’s allowing the Iowa market to thrive now while others are struggling amidst the coronavirus crisis?

The number of open houses and traditional showings did decrease in March amidst the spread of the pandemic, as an article posted by the Iowa Association of Realtors pointed out.

However, Iowa’s real estate on the whole — and Des Moines’ in particular — is looking surprisingly good right now.

In Des Moines, the average days on market decreased by 11.7 percent in March 2020 compared to the previous year, and the number of properties available increased 5.6 percent year-over-year with 3,487 homes on the market. The median sale price also showed a rise, increasing by 2.4 percent from $209,900 in March 2019 to $215,000 in March 2020.

Lance Hanson | Des Moines Area Association of Realtors

“Despite the pandemic reaching Iowa in mid-March, we saw another very strong month in terms of sales and a rise in properties on the market for the third consecutive month,” Lance Hanson, president of the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “There are still people that need to move or are finishing the purchase or sale of their home from February. Understandably, there was a slowdown in activity in the second half of March. The number of open houses lessened and traditional showings began to decline as well. Buyer behavior has been altered dramatically.”

The majority of properties sold in Des Moines — 70 percent — were financed conventionally. Cash purchases made up nearly 11 percent of purchases, and over 11 percent of homes were financed with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan.

Marian Flink | Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors

In Cedar Rapids, more than 200 properties sold and over 375 new properties were put on the market during March.

“Several companies in our market were very busy in March and exceeded their sales from last year,” Marian Flink, president of the Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “I am very pleased with the way Realtors in our area have adapted to these uncertain times and followed the safety and health guidelines to assist their clients.”

When asked if she thought there was anything special about her market that helped it thrive during the pandemic, Kathy Swanson, Des Moines area managing broker of RE/MAX Real Estate Concepts, cited the area’s lower case count and relatively stable market.

Kathy Swanson | RE/MAX Real Estate Concepts

“I don’t think there’s anything in particular that’s happened that has been special [in Des Moines], but I think we’re a little bit protected,” Swanson told Inman.

“Our [COVID-19 case] numbers are a little bit lower, and I think that helps.” Swanson added. “We’ve got a good market, great interest rates and people are still looking to buy homes … We’re taking different precautions and business is still different than it’s been in the past, but it’s still a great market.”

Matt Clark, a Realtor with IAHomes Realty, Brokered by eXp Realty, has been taken off-guard by the good fortune of the market lately.

Matt Clark | IAHomes Realty

“We certainly expected a slowdown given how how we conduct our business has changed [during] the pandemic,” Clark told Inman. “Honestly, what I think has been keeping everything moving are the rates. That’s what’s fueled everything locally.”

Does he think things will keep looking up in April?

“I sure hope it does!” Clark exclaimed.

Email Lillian Dickerson

home selling | RE/MAX
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