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ArlingtonReal EstateVa. home buyers, sellers seem to be taking a breather

Va. home buyers, sellers seem to be taking a breather

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Those seeking more proof that the real-estate market seems to be going into wintertime hibernation need only look to the most recent sales and sales-price figures from the Virginia Realtors trade group.

The 8,828 sales recorded statewide in October represented a decline of 30.2 percent from a year before – the steepest year-over-year drop in more than a decade – while October also brought the largest inventory build-up in Virginia’s market over the past eight years.

An already skittish market was further rattled with another spike in interest rates in October, sending buyers and sellers to the sidelines to await developments.

“As interest rates have increased and some buyers are choosing to pause their home searches, listings are staying on the market longer, causing inventory to grow,” said Virginia Realtors’ president Denise Ramey. “We expect this trend will continue into the near future.”

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That increased inventory now represents 1.7 months’ worth of housing on the market, given current sales figures, up from 1.2 months a year before. While still in pro-sellers’ territory, it is moving closer to a more balanced market.

Perhaps as a result, pricing also is beginning to take a hit.

While the median sales price of all homes sold statewide in October ($365,000) was up 4.3 percent from a year before, it was off from the median $375,000 that has been seen over the first 10 months of the year.

Some of the bad news needs to be taken with a grain of salt (perhaps washed down with a Tylenol). The autumnal market of 2021 was unusually strong, so both the drop-off in sales and the cooling sales prices are perhaps to be expected. The real test will come next spring, when the market ordinarily would be expected to awaken from its slumber and snap back to life.

Time will tell, but so far the market has been stopped from a freefall by the lower number of sellers in the mix, which continues to prop up prices.

The decline in sales contributed to a 27-percent dip in total sales volume for the month, dropping from $5.5 billion statewide in October 2021 to $4 billion in October 2022. That equates, very roughly, to about $78 million less going to real-estate firms and their agents in the form of commission revenue.

In Northern Virginia, sales in October totaled 2,763, a drop of 37.2 percent from a year before, while the median sales price of $569,541, though down from September (typical of this time of year) still was up 6.5 percent from $535,000 a year ago.

“Northern Virginia” as defined by the Realtors’ group is somewhat more broad than it’s typically used elsewhere, counting not just the inner and outer suburbs of District of Columbia but also as far west as the West Virginia line and as far south as the suburbs of Fredericksburg. It’s by far the biggest of the 10 geographic areas in terms of population, with about a third of all home sales statewide.

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