It’s no secret that 2020 was unique for many reasons. But what may surprise some is that year-over-year comparisons between 2020 and 2021 can be heavily skewed. Comparing 2021 to 2019 would be a more apples-to-apples comparison. One factor at play is what you might call “skew.” Take a look at just how much buyer and seller activity skewed toward the 2nd half of 2020. That means activity that would’ve normally occurred in Q1 and Q2 was pushed into Q3 and Q4. That’s why some comparisons to 2020 fall short, since activity from the 1st half of the year was delayed into the second half. So more of the year’s activity took place later in the year. That means a more typical year will seem to have slowed down compared to the heightened activity in the year-ago baseline period.
Over on the demand side, pending sales appear to be front-loaded this year as the buying frenzy continued. A relatively higher share of 2021 activity took place in the 1st half of the year compared to a more typical year. So it’s not just that sales activity was back-loaded in 2020 but also that sales are front-loaded in 2021. That’s a double-whammy that can skew our understanding of what’s really happening in the market.