Given growing U.S. housing market uncertainty caused by the recent Coronavirus outbreak, Zillow Group announced this week it will pause home buying in all 24 U.S. markets where Zillow Offers currently operates in response to local public health orders related to COVID-19 and to help protect the safety and health of its employees, customers and partners.
"Our top priority is ensuring the safety and health of our employees, customers, and partners. Given the concerns for public safety and rapid developments by governments that restrict local real estate activities, we determined it was prudent to pause our home buying to preserve our capital," said Zillow Group CEO and co-founder Rich Barton. "We plan to restore Zillow Offers full operations once health concerns pass and local health orders are lifted. In the meantime, we are working to support our customers and partners in these uncertain times when home has never been more important."
This decision to temporarily pause making offers to sellers comes after several counties and states, including California, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, New York and Nevada, have implemented emergency orders requiring people to stay home and all non-essential business activities, including some real-estate related activities, to temporarily stop.
Zillow will continue to market and sell homes through Zillow Offers, but will temporarily suspend plans to open additional Zillow Offers markets. To help protect Zillow customers and partners, the company halted open houses for its homes in all markets last week. All Zillow-owned homes include proprietary Zillow 3D Home technology to make virtual home tours easier and Zillow's local broker and Premier Agent partners offer virtual consultations.
"Zillow Group is well positioned to navigate these unprecedented times. We already slowed our pace of acquiring homes over the past month, while our pace of home sales in the quarter accelerated. We have a strong balance sheet and cash position, and are taking proactive steps to reduce spending to offset the important financial support we're giving our industry partners so we may continue to best serve our mutual customers," added Barton.
Zillow Group ended 2019 with 2,707 homes in inventory. As of March 19, 2020, the company's home inventory balance had been reduced to approximately 1,860 homes.