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Monday, October 18, 2021
FairfaxReal Estate‘Balance’ is back in N.Va. homes market

‘Balance’ is back in N.Va. homes market

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A “more balanced” homes market between buyers and sellers isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, it can be healthy.

And that’s the phase the local area appears to be moving back into.

“Homes continue to sell at a brisk pace in Northern Virginia, with an increase in the number of available homes for sale in our region in August,” said Ryan McLaughlin, CEO of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), in parsing August sales data for the region that includes Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.

A total of 2,337 homes went to closing across the region last month, an increase of 1.7 percent from a year before (when the market showed an unusual late-summer spurt due after being upended in the spring by COVID.
Year-over-year sales were up in each jurisdiction except for the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church. Fairfax County was up 3 percent, Arlington up 1.4 percent.

Both median and average sales prices continued to rise except in Alexandria and Arlington, where they have been softer of late.

All kinds of data suggest that the hot-hot-hot market of springtime is cooling off.

Among the indicators: There is currently a “contract ratio” of 0.87 pending contracts per active listing in the NVAR region, which is higher than the five-year August average of 0.78, yet indicates that the market is inching back toward equilibrium between buyers and sellers when compared to recent months.

That’s good news for prospective purchasers, and probably for the industry as a whole, though it will prove disappointing to sellers expecting to garner top dollar for minimal effort.

“August represented many changes for both buyers and sellers, and depending on which side you were on, determined whether it was beneficial or not,” said NVAR president-elect Reggie Copeland of C.R. Copeland Real Estate in Fairfax.

“Overall, we’ve definitely seen a softening in the market, which is reflected in a decrease in multiple offers and bidding wars,” Copeland said. “That has been somewhat of a challenge for sellers that didn’t make it on the market until June, July or August, because in many areas buyers had started backing off and delaying purchasing based on the previously high real-estate temperature.”

Another indicator suggesting a late-summer/early-fall cooldown: Home showings in the Northern Virginia region began easing in mid-July, and that trend continued in August after a slight uptick in the first week, based on appointments confirmed through Showing Time as reported by Bright MLS, the region’s multiple listing service.

“While still tracking above 2019 activity, the number of showings has been below last year’s levels since June of this year,” McLaughlin said. “As of the week ended Sept. 12, showing levels tracked at 137.1 percent of the same week in September of 2019 and at 90.6 percent compared to last year.”

The average number of days on the market between listing and ratified sales contract also is on the rise, suggesting the springtime feeding frenzy among buyers is softening a bit. And as a result, inventory is beginning to build even though fewer homeowners in recent weeks have been putting their properties on the market.

Arlington seems to be leading the pack in terms of cooling down, with fewer listings coming to market, fewer contracts being written and prices easing (although, in the single-family sector particularly, still stratospheric). The county’s upper-end condo market also has been softer since the outset of the pandemic, which gave some prospective purchasers pause about plunking down major dollars for communal living.

Taken together, should all this data encourage people start to hiding under the bed in anticipation of a market crash? Nope, local real-estate leaders say.

“The shift in market activity is not a cause for concern,” McLaughlin said.

“In fact, a return to a more measured pace of growth and typical seasonal market is more sustainable over time, providing greater opportunity for those who live and work in the region.”

• • •
For full details, see the Website at www.nvar.com/marketstats.

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