It’s been a familiar tale for some months now in the Northern Virginia real estate market: Prices are up, but home sales (and total sales volume) are flat or down from the year before.
March figures stayed true to form, as the market transitioned from winter to spring.
A total of 1,584 properties went to closing during the month, down 10.4 percent from a year before, according to figures reported April 11 by MarketStats by ShowingTime and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR).
Figures represent market activity in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.
While sales were down, the average sales price of $596,142 was up 4.9 percent from a year before, with increases posted in every locality across the region (just as every locality also posted lower year-over-year home sales).
The higher average sales price for the month was caused, in part, by a larger percentage of single-family homes in the overall sales mix compared to a year before. Single-family sales stayed steady (unchanged at 725 in March) while townhouses and condominiums saw declines.
But those with boots on the ground say there definitely is an upsurge in buyer interest that is impacting prices, if not total sales.
“Diminishing inventory is certainly a factor contributing to rising prices,” said NVAR president Christine Richardson. “Open-house traffic is way up, and multiple offers are the norm at the most desirable price points.”
Fears of a rising-interest-rate environment also are working to spur prospective purchasers, with the average rate of 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages hovering around 4 percent.
Ryan Conrad, CEO of the Realtors’ group, said data from George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis suggest the regional economy is in “great shape” – for now, at least – “with low unemployment, rising wages for private-sector professionals . . . and a positive job outlook.”
For the month, conventional mortgages represented the method of transacting sales in 70 percent of cases, followed by cash (14 percent) and VA-backed mortgages (9 percent).
For the first quarter of 2018 across the region, home sales were down 3.8 percent to 3,857 but average sales prices were up 2.3 percent to $577,886. Total sales volume for the January-February-March period was $2.23 billion, down 1.6 percent from the first quarter of 2018.
Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision. For more information, see the Website at www.nvar.com/marketstats.