If July’s real-estate data was a roller coaster, it would be the equivalent of a kiddie ride – no stomach-churning dips and twists, either upward or downward.
“Steady as she goes,” reported Christine Richardson, president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), noting a “relatively flat” month across the market.
The data bear her out: Across Northern Virginia, home sales in July totaled 2,233, up a little less than 1 percent from a year before.
Figures represent home sales in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. The overall increase in sales was attributable exclusively to Fairfax County, where closed transactions increased 6.5 percent; every other jurisdiction saw lower sales.
The average sales price of $619,082 was up about 1.6 percent, with none of the three segments of the market showing major moves:
• The average sales price of single-family homes was up 1.3 percent to $821,665.
• The average price of attached homes, such as townhouses and rowhouses, was down 0.2 percent to $438,657.
• The average price of condominiums was up 1.6 percent to $351,543.
Total sales volume for the month stood at $1.38 billion, up 2.4 percent from a year before.
“Across the region, total sales volume is up, and homes are selling more quickly. This clearly shows activity is there, prices are stable and demand is strong,” said NVAR president-elect Nicholas Lagos of Century 21 New Millennium in Arlington.
The biggest story in local real estate has been the dearth of inventory, especially in Arlington and Alexandria, where some prospective sellers are holding back in hopes of cashing in even more by awaiting the arrival of hordes of Amazon workers.
On a year-over-year basis, Arlington inventory fell by about 57 percent in July, and Alexandria had nearly as large a dropoff.
“What we need now are motivated sellers,” said Richardson, an agent with Weichert, Realtors, in Great Falls.
With the recent drop in average 30-year fixed mortgage rates, to 3.6 percent in early August, according to Freddie Mac, buyers are eager to lock in favorable terms.
“We’ve certainly experienced an uptick in refinancing activity, and I’m sure the recent lowering of the Fed funds rate has contributed,” said Fred Westerlund, CEO of MBH Settlement Group and chairman of the NVAR Real Estate Finance and Settlement Forum.
“Our biggest challenge remains inventory,” he said.
“The hope is that sellers recognize there are eager buyers who could qualify to borrow more right now than they might when rates rise again,” said NVAR CEO Ryan Conrad. “Perhaps this will motivate some sellers to make a move now, instead of waiting to see if prices will continue to climb.”
Lagos said that for the most part, it is still a sellers’ market in most areas, particularly those closer to the District.
“With the very buyer-friendly interest rates, it seems that will only continue to drive the demand for housing – with a realization that a buyer needs to be prepared and act quickly if a home shows well and is well-priced,” Lagos says.
For full data, see the Website at www.nvar.com/marketstats.