Va. home sales down but prices still rising

Graphic shows the year-over-year rise in average home-sale prices in various geographic areas of the commonwealth. (Virginia Realtors)

Year-over-year homes sales were down across most of Virginia in June, but sales prices continued to rise due in large part to reduced inventory creating a sense of urgency among some buyers.

A total of 13,106 properties went to closing the last month of the first half of the year, down 6 percent from the 13,887 transactions in June 2018 and the lowest-performing June since 2015, according to figures reported by the Virginia Realtors trade organization.

Among the various geographic regions of the commonwealth, sales were up only in Southwest and Southside Virginia (14 percent and 3 percent, respectively) and were down between 0.4 percent and 10 percent everywhere else. That 10-percent drop came in the Northern Virginia market, which had been particularly hard-hit by inventory issues.

The total number of available properties on the market at the end of June stood at just under 47,000, down 8 percent from a year before.

Year-over-year sales declines have been a fact of life across Virginia since last fall, despite a few exceptions to the rule (such as in May) when sales were higher. The low supply of available houses “is playing a big role in market conditions,” with demand boosted by solid consumer confidence and relatively low interest rates, Realtor officials said.

The median sales price of all Virginia homes that went to closing in June was $313,000, up 2 percent from a year before and up in nearly every region of the commonwealth. Median sales prices ranged from $140,000 in Southwest Virginia to $467,500 in Northern Virginia.

Statewide, more than one in five homes sold for more than $500,000 in June, with 2.4 percent of all transactions in the million-dollar-and-up range. Those at the lower end of the spectrum, however, were finding some challenging conditions.

“As prices shift higher in Virginia, the proportion of sales below $200,000 [now 22.8 percent] continues to decline, which can have impacts on the availability of homes for large segments of the market, including first-time home-buyers,” the trade group said.

Adding up the sales and prices, total sales volume of $4.91 billion in June 2018 was down about 4 percent – roughly $200 million – from a year before. But the monthly sales volume was up more than $1.2 billion from June 2014, when the market was still coming back from the recession.

The market continues to benefit from low (under 4 percent) interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

Homes that went to closing in June spent an average 45 days on the market, unchanged from a year before. Northern Virginia saw average days on the market rise by 8, offsetting faster turnaround times in other areas of the market such as the Hampton Roads area.

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