Existing Home Sales dipped 8.5% in March, but the 5.270 million annual rate was still 0.8% ahead of a year ago. Tight inventories kept demand high, as 52% of the homes sold were less than a month on the market.

New Home Sales fared even worse, down 15.4% for the month, the 627,000 annual rate off 9.5% from a year ago. This largest monthly drop since 2013 was put to the effects of COVID-19 social distancing and business shutdowns.

In a new Gallup survey, only 21% of Americans think stocks or mutual funds are the best long-term investments; real estate came in as the most favored long-term investment, a position it’s held since 2013.


AN OILY SLIDE… Progress in fighting the pandemic (some states reported weekly drops in new cases, and four began to reopen) raised Wall Street’s hopes. But  stocks slid, as plummeting crude oil prices drove investors to sell.

The price for a barrel of crude temporarily went negative, with demand from motorists and airlines off severely. (Orders evaporate when storage facilities haven’t depleted capacity enough to accommodate new deliveries.)

Weekly jobless claims declined, as measures to support employer payrolls start to have impact. Plus, the President signed another COVID-19 relief bill providing more funds for small businesses, hospitals, and testing.

The week ended with the Dow down 1.9%, to 23,775; the S&P 500 down 1.3%, to 2,837; and the Nasdaq down 0.2%, to 8,635.

Some bonds ended up a bit, others were off a little, as prices stabilized. The UMBS 4.0% ended down 0.20, to $106.44. In Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate headed up slightly. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.

DID YOU KNOW?… A national online listing site reports traffic plunged in the first weeks of the coronavirus shutdown, but has since bounced back, indicating more home buyers and sellers might be ready to enter the market.