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ArlingtonReal EstateMore Va. Realtors seeing prospect of downturn in market

More Va. Realtors seeing prospect of downturn in market

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They remain in the minority, but an increasing number of Virginia Realtors see the prospect of declining home-sales prices in coming months, according to a new survey.

“The share of survey respondents who expect prices to rise in their local markets in the next three months dropped to the lowest level since October,” noted Ryan Price, chief economist of the Virginia Realtors trade organization, in an analysis of the latest “flash survey” of members.

This most recent survey, conducted April 27 to May 1, received responses from 908 Realtors, including 742 who had participated in a transaction over the preceding 30 days.

Rising interest rates, affordability issues and a springtime bump up in the number of homes on the market all could conspire to stop, or at least seriously limit, home-price appreciation that has been the norm for the past few years.

Responses from the survey provide sometimes contradictory input on an increasingly complicated market:

• Buyer activity dipped in April. The Buyer Activity Index for the month was 71, which is down from 84 in March and the lowest level since December. About 56 percent of responding Realtors rated the level of buyer activity in their local markets as “high” or “very high” – still significant, but down from 75 percent in March.

• Nearly three quarters (71.9%) of respondents indicated that offers came in above list price in April. There is some evidence that appraisals have been more of a challenge.

• Multiple offers continued to be the norm in April, according to Realtors responding to the survey. Recent transactions received an average of 5.3 offers.

• Thirty percent of buyers in April were first-time buyers, according to respondents to this month’s survey. This is a slight dip from a month earlier.

• About 44 percent of respondents said that homes are remaining on the market longer than expected either “frequently” or “sometimes.” A similar share also stated that sellers are lowering their prices either sometimes (41%) or frequently (3%).

Add it up and what does it all mean? “There are some signs of a cooling housing market; however, it is still very much a sellers’ market,” Price said.

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