Va. home sales, April 2020

Graphic shows increases in median sales prices from April 2019 to April 2020. (Virginia Realtors)

Based on the number of completed sales compared to 2019, the month of April indeed was an ugly one for the Virginia real-estate market.

But the downturn wasn’t as bad as forecast, suggesting that as the commonwealth wriggles out of COVID-19 lockdowns, the market, or at least parts of it, could be poised for a solid rebound.

A total of 10,146 properties went to closing in April, down 6.9 percent from a year before, according to new data reported by the Virginia Realtors’ trade group.

The decline “was not as severe as some had anticipated,” said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for the organization, and Virginia outperformed many states.

One area of the commonwealth – Southside Virginia – actually posted a year-over-year increase in sales in April. Hampton Roads and central Virginia (including the Richmond area) were down but not significantly, although Northern Virginia saw a 13.3-percent dropoff in sales. Part of that decline could be attributed to the dearth of inventory that has been plaguing the northern tier of the state for more than a year.

Statewide, the median sales price of all homes that went to closing in April was $310,000, an increase of 5.3 percent from a year before, and was up in all eight geographic areas of the commonwealth. The median sales price in Northern Virginia was highest statewide at $490,000, up 7.7 percent

Total sales volume of $3.9 billion for April was down 2 percent.

With luck, the state market is now “poised to begin turning the corner,” Sturtevant said.

But it’s perhaps not time to get carried away, as there will be at least a month (or two, or three) to work through before year-over-year sales data is back in fighting form.

Why? Because pending sales reported in April were down nearly 28 percent from the same period in 2019 – no surprise, given that both buyers and sellers were appropriately skittish. (Home sales that went to closing in April in some cases originated in the weeks prior to the pandemic.)

A total of 13,149 properties came onto the market in April, down 28 percent as sellers opted to await some firm indications of the trajectory of the pandemic and its economic impact. Overall listings also were down, dropping 25 percent to 29,119.

Due to the tight inventory, “most markets remain sellers’ markets,” although there is some regional variation, Sturtevant said.

Prospective purchasers continue to benefit from rock-bottom interest rates, but some buyers find themselves having to go through more hoops in order to qualify for mortgages.

Virginia Realtors is an organization of 35,000 real-estate professionals across the commonwealth. Data represent most, but not all, home sales statewide.

For information, see the Website at www.virginiarealtors.org.

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