Inventory is still tight across the Northern Virginia homes market, which could make the current challenging environment for buyers doubly so as the spring buying season kicks in.
“With 46 percent fewer active listings in January compared to last year, sellers are still holding all of the cards,” said Heather Embrey, president-elect of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, in parsing new sales data for January.
A total of 1,172 properties went to closing the first month of the year. While down 14 percent from January 2021, that is something of an apples-to-oranges comparison, since the local real-estate market was on a tear at the start of last year owing to pent-up buyer demand that had been stifled during the earliest stages of COVID.
Comparing 2022 to pre-COVID Januaries, sales figures are in line with traditional norms across the region, which see the slower winter season leading to more sales in spring. There were 1,065 homes sold in January 2020 and 1,128 closed transactions in 2019.
Figures for Northern Virginia represent sales in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. Sales totals were down in all jurisdictions except Arlington, which posted a 13.5-percent increase compared to January 2021.
Average sales prices were up in every jurisdiction except Alexandria, which saw a drop of 4.2 percent to $602,585.
Elsewhere, average sales prices stood at $1,009,000 in Falls Church (up 21.4 percent); $757,534 in Arlington (up 6.2 percent); $710,626 in Fairfax County (up 9.6 percent); and $590,523 (up 0.1 percent) in the city of Fairfax. Across the region as a whole, the average sales price was $702,465, up 7.5 percent.
“This ‘early-spring’ market definitely presents more of a challenge for buyers than last year,” said Embrey, an associate broker with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Premier in Falls Church.
Average prices for single-family (detached) homes in the NVAR reporting area have been solidly in $900,000-plus territory since mid-2020 and have tiptoed in and out of the $1 million range throughout 2021. Single-family homes with four or more bedrooms saw an average price increase of 17.4 percent compared to January 2021, while the average increase for all single-family detached homes grew by 13.7 percent year-over-year in January, to $1,082,897.
“Our Northern Virginia housing market is still solidly in uncharted territory,” said NVAR CEO Ryan McLaughlin. “What we can state with certainty is that many sellers who are ready to make a move have a real opportunity to tap into substantial equity when they sell in this market.”
Many Realtors continue to report a feeding-frenzy environment, with prospective buyers lined up at the door to attend open houses, ready to outbid one another. But at the same time, some potential purchasers are taking a time-out.
“I’ve noticed fewer buyers are willing to enter the market,” said Embrey. “Even with the prospect of higher interest rates, some of my buyers have decided to put off buying until it makes more sense for them.”
But with prices still on the rise, more possible purchasers could find themselves priced out of the market, at least when it comes to the locations and home types they desire.
“Affordability certainly poses a significant challenge in our region,” McLaughlin said.
Figures come from the National Association of Realtors and MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing data from Bright MLS. Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision.
For information, see the Website at www.nvar.com/marketstats.