Importance of windows, shutters

This home on Ballantrae Farm Drive in McLean currently is on the market, listed at $4.2 million by Lilian Jorgenson of Long & Foster Real Estate. (BTW Images LLC)

Home sales across Northern Virginia were up slightly in October despite a tightening inventory, while average prices ticked up just under a percentage point, according to new figures.

A total of 1,540 properties went to closing last month, according to figures reported Nov. 10 by RealEstate Business Intelligence, an arm of the local multiple-listing service. That’s up 1.1 percent from the 1,524 transactions in October 2015.

(Figures include sales in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.)

The average price of all homes that sold during the month was $547,805, up slightly from $553,465 a year before, but the increase was concentrated in one segment of the market:

• The average sales price of single-family homes was up 1.4 percent to $754,633.

• The average sales price of attached homes was down 0.5 percent to $395,944.

• The average sales price of a condominium was down 1.3 percent to $324,112.

There were 119 sales of more than $1 million during the month, including five of $2.5 million or more and one above $5 million.

Add up the sales and prices, and the total market volume for the month of $843.6 million was up 1.9 percent from the year before.

Ryan Conrad, CEO of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, said the numbers reflect “a stable market” that showed “a pre-election trace of confidence in buyers and sellers.”

One of the bigger challenges of the market as it transitions to the most dormant part of the year is tightening of inventory. At the end of October, there were 4,437 properties on the market, down more than 20 percent – more than 1,100 homes – from a year before.

One reason? “People are staying in their homes a lot longer,” said Bob Adamson of McEnearney Associates, chair-elect of the local Realtors’ group.

“In 2000, the median stay before sale was six years; in 2015, the median stay had risen to 10 years nationally,” and the local market was following this trajectory, Adamson said.

Despite the dearth of homes on the market, some prospective buyers are choosing to remain choosy, said Moon Choi of Re/Max Executives. Buyers are “searching for their perfect homes,” he said.

“Well-priced homes with move-in-ready condition are still going fast, but at the same time, I have seen several properties on the market for a while,” Moon said.

Interest rates remain at near historic lows, but some buyers – notably first-timers and those with spotty credit – are finding it hard to tap into the mortgage market.

Where is the market headed over the short term? The number of homes coming under contract and the number of pending sales were in positive territory year-over-year in October.

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

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