FILE - Virginia real estate

A real estate for sale sign in front of a townhouse in Fairfax, Va.

By one measure, Virginia’s hottest real-estate markets can be found way downstate.

Its coolest markets are down there, too.

As for Northern Virginia? By this measure, all the localities in the region are somewhere in the middle. Not too hot, not too cold.

The formula? Take the number of pending sales in any given county or city, and divide by the number of homes coming on the market the same month. The higher the ratio, the hotter the market.

“Tracking newly listed properties and the number of homes going under contract is a good way for Realtors to gauge the velocity of local markets and to help predict where the market might be heading,” said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for the Virginia Realtors trade group.

Markets where the ratio of pending sales to new listings is above 100 are where homes are selling increasingly fast and prices are rising significantly, Sturtevant said.

Using the most recent data (April 2021), there were 20 cities and counties statewide that had ratios of higher than 100 percent, meaning the market was at some risk of running out of homes on the market if trends continue.

Many of those localities could be found in Southside Virginia, the area near North Carolina and sitting between the Hampton Roads area to the east and Southwest Virginia to the (naturally) west.

Among the localities with whopper sales-to-listings ratios were Patrick County (138 percent) and adjacent Henry County (112 percent).

But head west into Southwest Virginia, and the story changes. That part of the Old Dominion had some of the lowest ratios, including Wythe and Washington counties, both around 23 to 25 percent. In other words, four homes were coming on the market for every one that was on the way to closing.

(It is worth noting that many of these communities have relatively small numbers of sales in any given month, so the swings might be greater than in more urban areas. For full details and Sturtevant’s analysis, see the Website at

In Northern Virginia, most localities have ratios between 50 percent and 80 percent, signifying relative stability, as there is a pipeline of homes to replenish those going to closing.

No locality in the Northern Virginia suburbs – inner or outer – posted ratios of less than 50 percent or higher than 100 percent, based on April data.

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