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These Were the Hottest Markets for Real Estate in March 2020

Has there ever been such a head-spinning month in American history as March 2020? Over the course of 31 days that felt like a lifetime, we went from sympathy and mild concern for the sufferings of Chinese and then Italian victims of the coronavirus, to growing alarm, panic buying, shelter-in-place orders, a tanking economy, and a growing toll of U.S. deaths.

Of course, the real estate industry has been affected as well, as people put off all but the most important home sales and purchases. As we at realtor.com look back at the markets seeing the most real estate activity in March overall, we’re assessing which trends will continue to hold true this year—and which are likely to change because of the pandemic.

“The top 20 list for March is not fully reflective of the effect of the coronavirus,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com. “We’re still about a month away from seeing how supply and demand are going to play out at the local level.”

In our monthly ranking of the hottest markets for real estate in the U.S., based on where buyers are clicking the most on listings and where homes spend the fewest days on market, the No. 1 market for the second month in a row is Colorado Springs, CO. Half of all homes in Colorado Springs sold in fewer than 28 days in March—that’s 32 days faster than in the rest of the country, and nine days faster than the same month last year.

Colorado Springs rose to the top in February after a few years hovering in and around the top 10. Its rise is part of a trend in which smaller, less dense, and ultimately more affordable cities have become more popular with today’s home buyers.

And in the current pandemic situation, attributes like low population density are taking on new meaning, Vivas notes.

“Less dense cities have seen less need for social distancing,” he says. They’ve also seen fewer listings pulled off the market.

Even with a much slower rate of sales, in the near future, buyers will probably still continue to focus on these smaller, more affordable metros, Vivas says. There’s one additional factor, however, that will become incredibly important as unemployment soars.

“It’s not enough to be an affordable market with enough supply [of homes], but also a market that continues to have job supply and less deceleration on the economic landscape,” he says.

The hot list

Metro Rank (March 2020) Rank (March 2019)
Colorado Springs, CO 1 3
Modesto, CA 2 8
Manchester, NH 3 7
Rochester, NY 4 6
Lafayette, IN 5 11
Fort Wayne, IN 6 38
Columbus, OH 7 61
Topeka, KS 8 40
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 9 10
Sacramento, CA 10 5
Boston, MA 11 4
Fresno, CA 12 20
Yuba City, CA 13 18
Spokane, WA 14 21
Stockton-Lodi, CA 15 9
Dayton, OH 16 22
Milwaukee, WI 17 25
Pueblo, CO 18 75
Bakersfield, CA 19 27
Worcester, MA 20 55

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