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Thursday, June 30, 2022
ArlingtonReal EstateAnalyst: Fundamentals ‘remain strong’ in Va. housing market

Analyst: Fundamentals ‘remain strong’ in Va. housing market

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Virginia’s real-estate market reported seasonal vigor in April, despite being held back by inventory issues and rising national economic woes.

A total of 11,991 properties went to closing across the commonwealth during the month, according to figures reported by the Virginia Realtors trade group.

That’s down 11.6 percent from a year before, owing largely to the ongoing dearth of inventory in many parts of the state.

While sales are down, prices keep rising. The median sales price of all homes that went to closing statewide in April was $390,000, an increase of 9.1 percent from a year before and well above the median price of $365,000 recorded for the first four months of this year. (For the first four months of 2021, the median sales price was $335,000.)

The higher sales prices are a result of “a persistently high demand” in many nooks and crannies of Virginia, said Virginia Realtors’ chief economist Ryan Price, who added that while the market may cool in the months ahead, there is minimal risk of a doomsday scenario.

“Home prices will rise at a lower rate than they have been, but there are no apparent risks of a price drop across most local markets,” he said.
With about 15,500 homes on the market at the end of the month – down 11 percent from a year before – the total months of supply stood at 1.2, down from 1.4 a year ago and tilted decidedly in favor of sellers.

Despite the higher prices, it was a challenge to convince some vascillating homeowners to get their properties on the market. The number of new listings in April was down 14.3 percent from a year before, meaning buyers had 2,600 fewer opportunities than they had then.

(On the plus side for buyers, the number of active listings increased almost 14% from March to April, proving that the seasonal nature of the market is back. There are “some signs” that the inventory shortage might be bottoming out, Price said.)

The amount of time it took for a deal to be consummated also fell, from an average 25 days in April 2021 to 19 days in 2022, a further indication that sellers remain in the driver’s seat.

Year-over-year sales volume for the month dipped slightly due to the reduced sales totals, declining from $6 billion to $5.8 billion. For the first four months of the year, the $18.1 billion in home sales was on par with 2021.

Across the eight broad geographic regions of the commonwealth, year-over-year sales were up in Southside Virginia, West-Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and effectively flat in Southwest Virginia. But the major population centers posted declines: Northern Virginia was down 18.1 percent (to 4,328), Hampton Roads saw 12.7 percent fewer sales and central Virginia, including the Richmond area, posted at 7.4-percent decline.

Median sales prices were up in all reporting areas, mostly by double digits. Median prices ranged from $168,000 in Southside Virginia to $605,000 in Northern Virginia.

Mortgage rates in recent months have been hovering about 5 percent, still low by historic norms but a shock to the system of buyers who a year ago would have been locking in 3-percent mortgages to borrow for homes.

“Rising rates will cool demand in the months ahead,” Price predicted. But, at the same time, “the economic and demographic fundamentals that support housing demand in Virginia remain very strong,” he said.

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