With more distressed sales impacted by foreclosure moratoriums and forbearances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers are moving online at an accelerated rate, according to Auction.com.
"A growing number of Multiple Listing Services and real estate brokerages are cancelling all open houses while placing common-sense limits on property showings, appraisals and closing appointments, all of which typically require some degree of person-to-person interaction," said Auction.com VP, Market Economic Daren Blomquist. "These preventative measures will likely throw a wet blanket on retail home sales and price appreciation in the coming months, depending on how extreme, widespread and lengthy those measures turn out to be."
According to Blomquist, properties available for online auction accounted for more than 50% of individual property page views on the Auction.com website on March 18—the first day this year that online REO auction properties have accounted for more than half of all property page views. The share of page views for online REO auctions has continued to trend higher since then, hitting a new high of 65% on March 31.
"Historically, in-person foreclosure auction properties accounted for more than half of all property page views on Auction.com, but the recent change indicates buyers are shifting their focus from those in- person auctions to online auctions.," Blomquist adds.
Additionally, online REO auction properties sold so far in Q1 2020 on the Auction.com platform have seen an average of 4.2 unique bidders per property and an average of 15.5 bids per property – with both of those metrics up from the previous quarter and a year ago. In 34 of 81 metro areas analyzed in the Auction.com data, 100% of online REO auction properties sold in Q1 2020 attracted multiple bidders, including Houston, Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, Orlando, and Virginia Beach.
Blomquist says that "even in somewhat less competitive markets like Duluth, Kalamazoo, and Scranton, at least 60 percent of all online REO auction properties sold so far in Q1 2020 attracted multiple, competing bidders."