Your blood type may affect your susceptibility to coronavirus, new study suggests

Preliminary results from a new COVID-19 study by genetic testing company 23andMe suggests that blood type could affect how susceptible a person is to the coronavirus. Very early data indicates that those with type O blood are between 9% and 18% less likely than people with other blood types to have tested positive for the illness.

The study, which examines how genetics could play a role in susceptibility to the coronavirus, found little difference among blood types A, B and AB. The findings, which have not yet been peer reviewed, held when adjusted for age, BMI, ethnicity, and other existing diseases.

  • Additionally, participants with type O blood who had been exposed to the coronavirus were between 13% and 26% less likely to test positive
  • 23andMe researchers believe this may indicate a link between the virus and the genes that determine blood type
  • Roughly 1.3% of participants with type O blood tested positive for COVID-19
  • By comparison, 1.4% of participants with type A blood and 1.5% with type B or type AB were confirmed to have the virus 

‘Preliminary data from 23andMe’s ongoing genetic study of COVID-19 appears to lend more evidence for the importance of a person’s blood type — determined by the ABO gene — in differences in the susceptibility to the virus,’ 23andMe, the company behind the world’s best DNA testing kit , said in a blog post discussing the findings.

‘Among respondents to the 23andMe COVID-19 survey, the percent of respondents reporting a positive test for COVID-19 is lowest for people who are O blood type. The percent of respondents reporting a positive test for COVID-19 was highest among those with the AB blood type.’

‘The study and recruitment are ongoing, with the hope that we can use our research platform to better understand differences in how people respond to the virus,’ the 23andMe blog read. 

‘Ultimately, we hope to publish our research findings in order to provide more insight into COVID-19 for the scientific community.’

This isn’t the first study into whether certain blood types could offer protective benefits, but it does tally with other research on the subject. In a collaborative study conducted by doctors from Germany, Italy, Norway and Spain, blood samples were collected from 1,610 patients who needed oxygen or who were put on ventilators. Separately, 2,205 people who weren’t infected with the coronavirus also donated blood samples. 

The study found that patients with type A blood were 50% more likely to need oxygen or require a ventilator, while type O was associated with lower risk compared to other blood groups.

A study published in March, which compared blood types of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wuhan and Shenzhen to healthy residents in Wuhan, also found that type O blood could be more resistant, while type A suggested a higher level of susceptibility. “People of blood group A might need particularly strengthened personal protection to reduce the chance of infection,” wrote researchers at the Centre for Evidence-Based and Translational Medicine, Wuhan.

23andMe is still recruiting for its COVID-19 study, and last month the study was expanded to include people outside its customer base who have experienced severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

If you take part in the research, you’ll be asked to answer a series of questions about whether you have experienced cold or flu-like symptoms, whether you have been diagnosed or treated for COVID-19, and whether you were hospitalized for it.

Looking for more coronavirus-related health content? Read up on 12 common coronavirus questions answered by a doctor, or learn how to use the best digital thermometers to monitor a potential fever, and where to buy reusable face masks for use in situations where social distancing is hard to maintain.

You can turn your barbecue into a pizza oven with this simple device

Pizza ovens are hard to find (and super sold out right now), but if you’ve got a gas grill, you may not even need one. Pizza stones are a simple way to transform your barbecue into a pizza oven, making them a great father’s day gift for the the grill-master of the house. Frozen pizzas are also proving to be a lockdown essential, selling out nationwide and facing sales increases of up to 195%. For anyone facing major pizza withdrawal, a homemade one will definitely hit the spot. 

It makes complete sense to cook a pizza on your barbecue – Italians have cooked pizza in wood-fired ovens for generations. The grill from a pre-heated pizza stone will give your homemade pizza a crisp, crunchy base, and closing the lid on your barbecue will melt cheese and cook toppings without burning them. This works well for an authentic thin-crust pizza in particular, which can be easily achieved my making your own pizza dough using a stand mixer . 

Weber (who make some of the best gas grills in the business) recommend pizza stones for an “added smoky flavor that is unmatched by any oven. The stone also is your answer for the crispy crust everyone loves because it absorbs moisture while cooking.”

You can also add a great custom take on pizza night with your family by making homemade pizza with an arrangement of toppings. We’re talking pepperoni, veggies, pineapple (hey, we’re not judging) and whatever you happen to have in the house.

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Why 35 million Americans are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus check

Up to 35 million Americans are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus payment to arrive, according to the latest official data revealing progress of the payments. 

While some 159 million Economic Income Payments have already been delivered, the House Ways and Means Committee said that somewhere between 30 – 35 million payments were still to be issued, mainly due to processing delays or not having the information required. 

The news will come as a blow to households who might be relying on the payment to help bridge financial gaps caused by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. A recent YouGov survey revealed that almost a third (30%) of Americans had paid bills with their stimulus payment, one in ten (10%) had used it to buy essentials including food, and 8% had paid off debt with the money.

Under the scheme, eligible individuals can expect to receive a payment of up to $1,200, and joint-filers up to $2,400, with an additional $500 payment made to families per each qualifying child. The Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have coordinated the process and by June 4 had successfully delivered 120 million electronic payments directly to individual’s bank accounts. A further 35 million had received a paper check in the mail, while some 3.7 million had been sent a prepaid debit card holding their payment. 

Who is yet to receive their stimulus payment

However, millions more payments are still to be delivered, leaving those in most desperate need to look for alternative ways to pay bills and pay down debt. 

According to the data, those still waiting include 13 – 18 million taxpayers who have filed tax returns and are below the CARES Act income thresholds, 7.5 million recipients of Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits who do not file tax returns, and millions more who are in receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Administration benefits who do not file tax returns. It is thought the Treasury has all the information it needs to get the stimulus payments to these groups. 

However, those who might be waiting a little longer, and may need to take further action to make sure they receive their payment, are the 10.7 million taxpayers who are not required to file tax returns and who do not receive Federal government benefits. The Treasury said it is unable to distribute payments to these people as it holds little of the information that it needs, but acknowledged that the IRS still has 10 million pieces of mail to open and process. Within this are an estimated 4.7 million tax returns, some of which will likely be from first-time filers who would qualify for the payment.

What to do if you haven’t received your stimulus payment

If you are yet to receive your stimulus payment, there are a number of reasons why it may be delayed. Some payments may already be in the mail and can be tracked using the U.S. Postal Service, but if you have any doubts as to whether the IRS has all the details that it needs to process your payment, you should take action.  

If you have filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or are an SSI or Veterans Affairs beneficiary, you should receive your payment automatically.

Don’t confuse your payment for junk

Find out how to tell if your stimulus payment is genuine or a potential scam.

However, for those who should file but have not yet done so for 2018 or 2019, your payment should be authorized once you have filed a 2019 tax return – the deadline this year has been extended to July 15 because of the coronavirus, so you still have time to make use of the best tax software to get this sorted.  

For the millions of Americans who don’t usually file but qualify for a stimulus payment, you have until October 15 to register using the Non-Filer tool at IRS.gov.  

Where’s my stimulus check? Here’s how to find out when your coronavirus payment will arrive

Americans who are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus check can now use a new method to track when the payment might be about to land in their mailboxes. 

While the latest IRS data reveals that more than 152 million stimulus payments have so far been delivered, millions more payments are either yet to be sent or will be in transit. The first wave of stimulus payments – which can amount to up to $1,200 for qualifying individuals – began to arrive directly into bank accounts in mid-April. 

However, with the deadline for supplying bank details to receive the payments by direct transfer having passed on May 13, anyone who has not yet received their money will likely now receive it in the mail. This will either be in the form of paper check or, as the IRS announced last week, a prepaid debit card . Around four million debit cards are being sent as part of efforts to get money to people fast but in a secure and easy-to-use way. 

Of course, this still means that people will be waiting on the mailman before they can get their hands on the money that many might desperately need. Research from YouGov recently found that 30% of people had used their stimulus payment to pay bills, 10% had bought essentials such as food, and 8% used the money to pay off debt . 

For those having to juggle their finances, knowing when they will receive the stimulus payment could prove invaluable as part of their planning. 

How to find out when your stimulus check will arrive 

Your first port of call should be the IRS, where the online Get My Payment tool will let you check on your payment status. As long as you have provided a tax return, or non-filers have supplied the information that is required of them, then you should get a rough estimate of when your stimulus money will arrive. 

Once you know that everything is in order at the IRS, however, you are still beholden to the U.S. Postal Service…but this is where the Informed Delivery service can come into play.

Set up by the U.S. Postal Service to allow people to track any mail – not just stimulus checks – Informed Delivery is free and will verify that the letter containing your payment is definitely on its way. The service makes use of the digital image that is created when letter-size mail passes through the automated mail sorting equipment used by the Postal Service. What the Informed Delivery program does is use this digitally captured information to notify you when each piece of mail is on the way. 

How to sign up for the Postal Service Informed Delivery service

To get started, and see if the service is available to you, head to the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery page, where you can sign up for free and set up an account. The service is generally available to residential and personal PO box addresses, but won’t work for some multi-unit buildings where each unit has not yet been identified by the Postal Service. 

You will need to verify your identity and address, which can be done by phone, mail or in person at a Post Office, and it can take up to three business days to activate your account. 

However, once you are up and running, you will be able to receive notifications on your smartphone, tablet or computer as to the mail that is on its way and when. There is an online dashboard you can access each day, or perhaps better, you will receive an email each morning, Monday through Saturday, if mail is scheduled to arrive, along with a grayscale image of the front of the letter.

What to do if you are still waiting for your stimulus payment 

If you are expecting a coronavirus stimulus payment, but haven’t yet received it, head to the IRS website to make sure there is no outstanding information that you need to supply. 

Payments are automatic for people who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return in the last two years. If you have a filing requirement and have not filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you must file a 2019 tax return to receive the payment. 

However, there are also millions of people who do not typically file a tax return but who are still eligible to receive the payments. If you are among those who don’t receive federal benefits and didn’t have a filing obligation in 2018 or 2019, you should use the Non-Filer tool at IRS.gov to get yourself registered. If you haven’t done it yet, remember that people can continue to receive their payment throughout the year.

“Economic Impact Payments have continued going out at a rapid rate to Americans across the country,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We remind people to visit IRS.gov for the latest information, including answers to the most common questions we see surrounding the payments. We also continue to urge those who don’t normally have a filing requirement, including those with little or no income, that they can quickly register for the payments on IRS.gov.”

If you have already received your coronavirus payment, but it falls short of what you were expecting, there are a number of reasons why this could be the case. If you are struggling to cope financially, either because of a smaller than anticipated payment or due to wider money problems, there are a number of alternatives  that might be able to help. The  best debt consolidation companies  could also prove useful in helping getting your finances back on track if debt is increasingly weighing on your mind. 

Weber’s wood-fired pellet grill is now available in time for Father’s Day

Weber creates some of the best gas grills around but now, the barbecue business is really heating up with the latest release, the SmokeFire EX4 and EX6 Wood Fired Pellet Grills available to purchase now.

The new wood fired grill comes in two different sizes and features the integrated Weber Connect smart grilling technology. This means you can use the LCD display to program the temperature of your grill and it’ll do the rest for you.

Ideal for fire-loving fathers, this grill has an inclined auger which means there won’t be any jams when you pour in the wood pellets and it’s available in time for Father’s Day.

With Father’s Day, 4th of July and summer all around the corner, garden grills are becoming a the new cooking essential.

The clever design doesn’t stop there either, this grill has a Responsible Incline Drive Engine (sounds fancy, we know) which means it’s designed to preheat quickly, preventing the pellets from getting stuck inside.

A fancy grill like this doesn’t come cheap and you’ll be making a pretty big statement if you treat your dad to this model for Father’s Day this year.

As with the Weber Spirit II E-310 gas grill , the new SmokeFire series features flavorizer bars and the grill itself can reach a scorching 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The easy-clean ash drawer makes tidying up after your barbecue a breeze and the smart-enabled grill means you can connect to your phone to control the barbecue more accurately.

 

If it’s smoky ribs and steak you love, then the Weber promises to deliver with its SmokeBoost function, which can be switched on via the app to intensify the flavor of your food.

Finish with porcelain enamel, this grill is designed to prevent rusting but it’s the all-in-one feature that we’re interested in. Weber claims this grill can do everything from baking pies and smoking briskets to searing steaks.

Wave goodbye to EarPods – Apple reportedly dropping the bundled headphones for iPhone 12

It looks like the iPhone 12 won’t be coming with a set of Earpod headphones when it launches later this year, if a recent rumor from Apple expert and industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is to be believed. The rumor was first reported by 9to5Mac and suggests that Apple may be dropping the iconic EarPods from the iPhone box to help push sales of its wireless AirPods.

Earpods have been a staple feature that have been included with iPhones since the iPhone 5 first launched with them bundled in back in 2012. Now it looks like the iconic earbuds will be dropped in favor of pushing the completely wireless AirPods. However it’s unlikely that we’ll see AirPods coming free with the iPhone 12 given the price disparity between the EarPods, which currently retail for $30 separately, and the AirPods which start at $159 . At best, we might see a bundle deal that costs less than the iPhone 12 and AirPods would separately.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Ming-Chi Kuo does also suggest that Apple will be offering deep discounts on AirPods this holiday season to help iPhone users ease into the transition. It’s a real shame to see EarPods dropping out of the box, but it’s not entirely unexpected. Apple made waves back with the iPhone 7 when it removed the standard headphone jack in favor of a USB-C connection, meaning you needed to buy an adapter or use Apple’s EarPods if you wanted headphones for your iPhone.

At the same time, other companies have already dropped headphones from their phones to save on costs, such as Google who no longer includes headphones with its Google Pixel line, including the Google Pixel 4XL . Google claims this is because most people don’t use them, favoring their own selection of the best headphones like the Bowers & Wilkins PX .

We don’t have any official word on when the iPhone 12 will be launching, but the signs point to October this year. In a private conference call to investors , Apple’s largest manufacturing partner Foxconn told investors that it was on track for a fall release, though that schedule may since have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime though, you can still grab the current models, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro which are both among the best smartphones on the market.

VanTop’s new $200 robot vacuum is inspired by… insects

VanTop Technology & Innovation is launching three new robot vacuums this June and they’re all inspired by insects including bees and dragonflies. Starting at under $200, the new Cybovac robot vacuums are the brainchild of Kyvol, a brand from VanTop, and will be available from June 25. 

Insects and vacuums seem like a pretty weird combination, but the new Cybovac E-series robot vacuums combine the visual navigation of bees and dragonflies along with drone technology, without adding a huge price tag either. 

The three models, E20, E30 and the E31, are all controllable via an app for remote control and have the functionality to perform automatic cleaning schedules. As with many robot vacuums, the new models have different cleaning modes – Auto, Edge and Spot but the E31 model has a built-in water tank so that it can mop your floors after vacuuming them. 

Aiming to earn its way into the leading robot vacuums on the market, Kyvol’s new models all have a battery life of 150 minutes, making them last longer than any other models in our round up of the best robot vacuums . 

Cheap robot vacuums: Cybovac E-series

When the robot vacuums reach a 12% battery level, they automatically return to their charging station. Other key features in the new models from Kyvol include the dust bins, which are 600ml to reduce emptying frequency, and infrared sensors to stop them from crashing into other objects or falling down stairs. Starting at $199 for the Cybovac E20, the E30 costs $249 and the E31 will cost $279 and they will be available from kyvol.com from June 25. 

Thinking about getting a robot vacuum? Traditionally, upright vacuums used to be cheaper, but robot vacuums are quickly advancing and becoming much more affordable. 

Unemployed Americans can now get a free subscription to the Headspace meditation app

With unemployment levels rocketing in the United States as the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety due to job loss or being furloughed. At times it may seem impossible to feel calm, but mindfulness meditation company Headspace wants to help by offering all unemployed Americans a free one year’s subscription to Headspace Plus , its premium mindfulness meditation learning platform.

If you’re an unemployed American, you can use Headspace Plus for the next year for free and learn how to practice mindfulness and meditation, both of which will help you find ways to feel more calm and less stressed or anxious. Headspace Plus also offers exercises created to help you sleep well – or a little better than you have been, anyway. All you need to do is download the Headspace app, compatible with the best smartphones and tablets , and sign up. Or you can access Headspace via your computer.

  • Get your one year’s free subscription to Headspace Plus

This good news from Headspace comes at a time when up to 43 million Americans could lose health insurance due to coronavirus-related job loss . Leading health organizations have also warned of a mental health pandemic off the back of the coronavirus fallout, with a greater uptake already seen in teletherapy for conditions such as anxiety and stress.

That’s why a year’s free subscription to Headspace Plus could help ease the burden for some. The program centers around 40 themed meditations. There are mini mindfulness meditations for those who are new to the practice and want an easy step in, as well as techniques to help you learn how to calm a racing mind.

#Headspace was founded to improve the health and happiness of the world — for whoever needs help, but especially those who need help most. So, from today we’re offering every unemployed person in America free access to Headspace Plus, for a year. pic.twitter.com/HXh8JKrImp May 14, 2020

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Mindfulness and meditation can help you:

  • Reduce stress
  • Control anxiety
  • Increase your self-awareness
  • Boost your problem solving skills
  • Lengthen your attention span
  • Feel more grounded and peaceful
  • Increase feelings of compassion and gratitude

Sleep has a huge impact on our mental health, and can be negatively impacted by a range of issues, from sleeping in a room that’s too noisy or too hot, through to being kept awake by a racing mind, or not having the best mattress or the best pillow for your sleep style. Via Headspace Plus, you’ll also be able to access a series of guided meditations created to help you sleep better. These are based around calming your mind before sleep, so that you’re in a more relaxed state before you lay your head down.

There will also be a new series of meditations, available via the Headspace app, aimed at how to live through unemployment. These guided mindfulness meditation sessions cover topics such as how to adapt to sudden change, and how to find purpose again.

How the wellness community responded to the coronavirus pandemic

For all the bad news we’ve seen since the coronavirus pandemic first hit, we’ve also seen the wonderful way in which many companies and individuals have stepped up to help their global community. The fitness industry, in particular, has responded to the coronavirus crisis by offering people free at-home fitness classes , with many brands, such as Peloton and Fitbit, one of the bes t fitness tracker brands in the world, offering extended free trials on their digital fitness platforms.

In the UK, the NHS made the Thrive app available to everyone to help people deal with anxiety, stress and low mood, while Chris Hemsworth and the team behind his wellness Centr app have created a series of meditations for kids experiencing stress and anxiety as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Even big pharmaceutical companies have extended care, with insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk offering a free 90-day insulin supply to diabetes patients who have lost health insurance due to a coronavirus-related job change or loss.

U.S. savings rate soars to 33% as Americans reinforce their emergency funds

Personal savings hit a record high in April as Americans looked to bolster their emergency funds in response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the personal savings rate soared to 33% in April, up from 12.7% in March, and almost double the previous high of 17.3% set in 1975. 

Americans on the whole have been stowing money away in commercial banks, credit unions and the best online banks , with separate figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showing the amount held in savings deposit accounts — which includes high-yield savings and money-market accounts — increased from $9.98 trillion in the week ending March 2 to $11.27 trillion by the week ending May 18.  

The savings have amassed despite many suffering a drop in personal incomes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Unemployment has soared to record levels, and others have been temporarily laid off as the country locked down, but with uncertainty breeding caution, many have sensibly looked to put spare cash away in preparation for difficult times ahead. 

Why has the savings rate increased? 

Importantly, the fact that people have been spending much less has provided the opportunity to save more. According to the BEA, personal consumption expenditures slumped by $1.89 trillion – or 13.6% – in April, the steepest drop since 1959. At the same time, households will have been boosted by the arrival of coronavirus stimulus payments . 

“The primary reason for the rise in the saving rate is the fact that consumers literally had very few places to spend during lockdowns,” said Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton. “Efforts by the statistical agencies to account for government aid also exacerbated the rise in saving as it boosted the amount consumers took in, on paper.”

Noting another potential drag on spending, Swonk added that baby boomers – who account for about one third of all consumer spending – had already been “growing more skittish about spending and apt to save prior to the COVID-19 crisis”. 

“They are either near or in retirement and much more protective of their saving than in the past,” she added. “They are also more likely to stay away from public spaces given their increased risks of contracting the disease and fatalities. Men over the age of 60 have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19.” 

Are people putting more money away for a rainy day?

Whatever the reasons that people are saving more, it is certainly a good thing. In mid-April, three-quarters of lower-income Americans feared their emergency funds would last less than three months , suggesting that those who have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus fallout are also likely to be the least prepared for such a financial shock.

The rise in the savings rate suggests people are taking note, while more recent analysis from Bankrate points to savings behavior taking a turn for the better too. Understandably, some Americans are having to use their emergency funds to cover outgoings, but an encouraging number have managed to save more. 

Some 19% of people said their rainy day funds were larger now than before the coronavirus outbreak, and 39% said their funds remained about the same. On the other side of the coin, 19% said they now had less savings, and 24% admitted to having no financial safety net before the crisis and still not having one now. 

How much cash should you put aside in an emergency fund?

The general rule of thumb is that you should try to keep between three and six months of fixed expenses in cash as a rainy day fund. That said, your personal circumstances should ultimately dictate how much cash you look to put away, including the size of your household and how safe you think your job is. 

As to where you are best keeping your funds, Kristin McKenna, Managing Director at Darrow Wealth Management, has some worthy advice . 

“Consider keeping your emergency fund in a separate high-yield savings account,” she says. “Switching banks can be a pain, but it’s worth it! High-yield savings accounts are currently yielding well above 1.5%. Compare that to a traditional bank that could yield 0% interest and switching is worth your time. Who doesn’t like free money?”

Find out whether you could earn more money on your savings at one of the best online banks . 

U.S. existing home sales fall at fastest pace for 10 years as coronavirus hampers buyers and sellers

Sales of existing U.S. homes plummeted by 17.8% in April, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to take its toll on the real estate market. 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that just 4.33 million transactions were completed in April, with the month-over-month drop the largest seen since July 2010. Sales were also 17.2% down on a year earlier, as borrowers struggled to get deals over the line, despite the best mortgage lenders offering some of the lowest rates on record . 

According to analysts , the drop was largely expected given the social distancing and stay-at-home orders that were in effect for most of March and April. “Widespread restrictions to contain the spread of the pandemic have been challenging for both buyers and sellers,” said Mark Vitner, Senior Economist at Wells Fargo. “Virtual tours and digital signings have been useful stop-gap measures. They were clearly not enough to avoid a sharp pullback in buying activity and new listings.”

What about sales across the regions? 

The NAR revealed that all four major regions experienced monthly and annual declines in sales, with the Covid-19 outbreak refusing to respect borders. 

The West was the hardest hit, with existing-home sales falling 25% to an annual rate of 810,000 in April, a 27% decline from a year ago. The South recorded a 17.9% drop to an annual rate of 1.88 million, down 16.8% from April 2019, while the Northeast saw sales fall 16.9% to an annual rate of 540,000, an 18.2% decrease from a year ago. Least affected was the Midwest, where sales decreased 12% to an annual rate of 1.10 million, down 8.3% from a year ago. 

How are house prices reacting? 

Despite the fall-off in transactions, the NAR said house prices remained higher than a year earlier, thanks largely to a shortage of homes for sale, especially for first-time buyers. Marking 98 straight months of year-over-year gains, the median price for existing-homes sold of $286,800 was up 7.4% from April 2019 ($267,000), with prices rising in every region. 

Gains were strongest in the Midwest, where the median sold price of $229,200 was 9.3% higher than a year earlier, while the Northeast reported growth of 8.7% to $312,500. The median price in the South was $249,400, a 6.4% increase from a year ago, while in the West, prices climbed by 6.1% to $419,300.

“The economic lockdowns – occurring from mid-March through April in most states – have temporarily disrupted home sales, but the listings that are on the market are still attracting buyers and boosting home prices,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Record-low mortgage rates are likely to remain in place for the rest of the year, and will be the key factor driving housing demand as state economies steadily reopen. Still, more listings and increased home construction will be needed to tame price growth.”

What else has been happening in the real estate market?

While prices remain high compared with a year ago, the dramatic slide in sales, alongside findings from other recent studies, reveal the uncertainties facing those trying to buy or sell a home at this time, or refinance their mortgage. 

Only last week it was revealed how around a quarter of homeowners putting homes up for sale have cut their asking prices below pre-pandemic levels . At the same time, the financial struggles created by the coronavirus has seen the number of Americans missing mortgage payments recently pass four million .

Unsurprisingly, most home-movers are putting their plans on hold , although one group perhaps finding conditions slightly more favorable are first-time buyers, who the NAR said were responsible for 36% of sales in April, up from 34% the month before and 32% in April 2019. By comparison, individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales, purchased just 10% of homes last month, down from 13% in March and from 16% a year earlier. 

Has the worst already passed? 

Although most will likely put their home-moving aspirations on hold until something resembling a more normal reality resumes, the prospect of cheaper asking prices and the near record low interest rates on offer from the best mortgage lenders suggests opportunities could still arise for the right buyer. 

There is also cautious optimism from Mark Vitner at Wells Fargo that the worst is perhaps over, and that real estate could be among the first markets to bounce back. 

“While most areas of the country have now reopened, it will be a slow and gradual recovery,” he says. “More optimistically, there are green shoots suggesting the housing market will help lead the recovery. Purchase mortgage applications dipped in late March and early April but have since steadily risen and are now down only 1.5% from their year ago level.”

Find out whether you could benefit from historically low interest rates with one of the best refinance mortgage companies