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FairfaxReal EstateLocal home-sellers still have advantage if they play it smart

Local home-sellers still have advantage if they play it smart

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If you’re going to be a home-seller between now and the end of the year, it will pay to know the lay of the land and plan accordingly.

“While the market is slowing, sellers are still well-positioned for a smooth transaction if they invest their time and energy into preparing the property for sale,” said Colleen Wright of McEnearney Associates, a board member of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR).

“Buyers, on the other hand, have a little more time to decide and a little more leeway for contingency protections in the sale,” Wright said.

The August NVAR home-sales report, issued Sept. 13, contained no real surprises for those who have been tracking the market in recent months.

Sales were well down from a year before, but by and large prices continued to rise. Homes are taking more time to sell, a marked difference from the frenzy that permeated the market from the summer of 2020 (immediately after the first COVID burst subsided) to this past springtime. And yet inventory remains low as some prospective sellers wait to see which way the wind blows.

Across the NVAR region – Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church – home sales for the month totaled 1,752, down 25 percent from a year before, while both average ($718,400) and median ($627,500) sales prices were up about 3 percent.

Sales were down by double digits in all five localities. Median prices were up in Fairfax County, Falls Church and Arlington; were flat in the city of Fairfax; and were down in Alexandria.

Add up the sales and prices, and the total market volume for August was just over $1.26 billion. That’s down 22.1 percent from a year before owing to the drop in sales.

Homes across the NVAR region took 19 days on average to sell in August 2022, up 5.6 percent compared to August 2021. This happened even though fewer homes (2,154) were available to buy, with active listings dropping 19.6 percent from August 2021. In the last pre-pandemic August (2019), the number of active listings had been 2,595.

In line with fewer listings, the supply of inventory for August 2022 was 1.1 months, down 8.7 percent from August 2021. That signifies the market is still in pro-seller territory; it would take the market getting to about three months’ worth of inventory before it could reasonably be seen as equilibrium between buyers and sellers.

“It’s an interesting time, as the housing market is slowing compared to earlier this year, but it’s still a challenge to find a house and prices remain high,” said NVAR CEO Ryan McLaughlin. “Sellers are still in charge, but their power is waning and that opens the door wider for buyers.”

Don’t expect the softening market to pick up a second wind in the short term. Pending sales in August totaled 1,624, down nearly 31 percent from a year before.

For more on the regional housing market, see the Website at nvar.com/public.

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