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Led by a hot-hot-hot single-family market, Northern Virginia homes sales were up nearly 30 percent in January compared to a year before, while average and median sales prices also continued to rise.

“Demand for single-family homes is increasing and competition among buyers has reached a fever pitch, causing buyers to make aggressive offers to compete for those homes,” said Derrick Swaak, partner and managing broker with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in McLean and 2021 president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR).

“On the other hand,” Swaak said, “the supply of condos for sale in our market has been growing for the last several months, and particularly when it comes to high-rise and luxury condos, there is a more balanced buyer-seller market.”

In the market as a whole – Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church – January sales totaled 1,368, an increase of 28.5 percent from a year before. All five jurisdictions reported higher year-over-year sales, with increases ranging from 6.8 percent in Arlington to 125 percent in Falls Church.

Figures were reported by NVAR on Feb. 13.

Compared to a year before, the average sales price across the region was up 1.7 percent to $653,681, rising in every jurisdiction except Arlington (which in January 2020 reported a number of very-high-priced home sales, skewing year-over-year comparisons). The median sales price of $553,500 was up 6.4 percent and rose in every jurisdiction.

The market, which was knocked off-balance in the early days of pandemic pandemonium last spring, quickly regained its equilibrium and has been strong ever since. Even January, a traditionally dormant time of year, proved healthy.

“In a month that is typically slow, Realtors representing buyers in our region experienced double-digit competing offers, price escalation and waived contingencies in January, and those conditions are continuing,” NVAR CEO Ryan McLaughlin said.

Buyer fatigue is real, especially for those attempting to purchase single-family homes and townhouses, said Heather Embrey, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Premier in Falls Church and 2021 NVAR secretary/treasurer.

Recently, a buyer represented by Embrey submitted an offer for a home in Fairfax and ended up competing with 16 other offers. 

“This isn’t unusual; it’s the norm nowadays,” Embrey said.

“We don’t expect market activity to decrease significantly any time soon,” McLaughlin said. “As more people in our region receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s likely that buyers and sellers who were staying out of the market in 2020 will have confidence that the time is right for them, too.”

Mortgage-interest rates that are at rock-bottom levels also provide encouragement for buyers to get into the market, and to pay more than they might have been willing to compared to when rates were higher.

Homeowners seem willing to test the market: New listings coming to market in January were up 14.5 percent from a year before (to 1,877) and overall listings were up 7 percent.

A fair chunk of that increased inventory is in the condo market. In January 2020, there were 348 condos on the market in the NVAR region, a number that spiked nearly 150 percent to 859 this January.

Read more about the NVAR region housing market at NVAR.com/public.  

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