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ArlingtonReal EstateVa. homes market returns to seasonality, 'moderation'

Va. homes market returns to seasonality, ‘moderation’

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Barring another shock to the system, Virginia’s home-sales market appears to have returned to normal seasonality.

The 8,063 home sales reported in January were down 9.5 percent from a year before, according to new data from the Virginia Realtors trade group, owing to the market spike that occurred from the summer of 2020 to the summer of 2021.

“Sales activity a year ago was unusually busy, so this moderation is a return to more normal seasonal patterns,” the trade organization noted in its monthly sales report.

(While January 2022 was slower, it wasn’t necessarily slow – in fact, sales figures were well above January figures of 2018, 2019 and 2020, where statewide home sales fluctuated between 6,500 and 7,100.)


Despite the general decline in year-over-year home sales, there were some pockets of growth, notably Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth and areas of the commonwealth close to the North Carolina border.

Otherwise, however, “large and small markets alike are returning to more normal levels,” said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for Virginia Realtors.

With inventory remaining constrained – listings in January were down more than 25 percent from a year before – the Virginia market continues to favor sellers, with prospective buyers paying, on average, more than listing price to obtain properties.

The median sales price of all homes that sold during the month was $337,500, up 7.1 percent from a year before.

“Even though price growth has retreated from the double-digit rates seen in most of 2020 and 2021, the growth has been well above typical rates that occur in Virginia,” Sturtevant said. “This is the 12th consecutive month the statewide average sold-to-list-price ratio exceeded 100 percent. Nearly all price segments of the market continue to experience upward pressure.”

Only 8,576 properties came onto the market statewide in January, down almost 25 percent from a year before. One reason: In order to sell, many homeowners have to first buy, and the tight market is proving a challenge for them as well as first-time buyers.

(Some of the tightest areas of the commonwealth, inventory-wise, are in Northern Virginia.)

The prospect of rising interest rates may be spurring some prospective purchasers to jump in before the traditional spring buying season kicks up its heels, but anecdotal evidence suggests that others are worn down and are taking a time-out from the competitive search for a new home. Despite what almost assuredly will be an upward trajectory in mortgage-interest rates – already at their highest level in more than two years – rates are expected to remain low by historic norms.

Even with solid price growth, the decline in transactions in January led to an overall dip in total sales volume. But not by much: The $3.4 billion worth of transactions was down 2.2 percent from a year before, but well above the totals of January in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The average number of days on the market between listing and ratified sales contract also was robust (for winter, at least), with homes going to closing spending an average of just 32 days before consummation of an agreement. Compare that to 59 days in January 2020, 65 days in January 2019 and 70 days in January 2018.

Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision.

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