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Redfin
(Redfin Photo)

Seattle-based real estate company Redfin announced Wednesday that RedfinNow, an arm of its business that buys homes directly from homeowners and resells them to homebuyers, will temporarily pause making offers on homes. The move comes as the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing have severely cut into home-buying demand across the United States.

Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech

Redfin’s announcement showed up in a Form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. CEO Glenn Kelman also published a blog post on Wednesday in which he said the housing market had taken a “turn for the worse.”

Kelman said that home-buying demand took a significant hit over the past seven days as cities instituted more stringent guidelines around social gathering. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, based in the Seattle area, also suspended in-person public and broker open houses until March 31.

Year-over-year growth dropped from nearly 27 percent in January and February to 1 percent growth over the last week, Kelman wrote, adding that there was a 1 percent contraction in home-buying demand over the past three days.

Kelman said that in some parts of the country it was business as usual and that it remains a seller’s market because of low inventory.

“Even where buying demand is falling, we believe that low inventory has limited some of the impact,” Kelman wrote. “Many agents we spoke to Tuesday morning still report bidding wars on listings.”

On Tuesday, Zillow Group responded to the expanding health crisis by offering its Premier Agents a 50 percent discount off their next monthly bill, starting March 23. The discount for Premier Agents, who partner with Zillow to find client leads, will apply to new bookings through at least April 22.

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