September traditionally marks a continuation of the local real-estate market’s moving from the hot-hot-hot spring-summer sales environment to a less robust fall-winter season.
This year – like just about everything else – that has been different.
The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) reported Oct. 13 that the nearly $1.5 billion in residential sales volume for September represented a 58% year-over-year increase.
“This is a truly staggering sales volume for one month and speaks to the favorable market conditions in Northern Virginia,” said Nicholas Lagos, an associate broker with Century 21 New Millennium and 2020 NVAR president.
(Figures represent sales data for Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.)
September’s blistering pace of activity was a continuation of the strengthening market Northern Virginia has experienced since June, when the market emerged from the daze caused by the COVID crisis and resulting government-mandated lockdown.
“The usual spring market was delayed through the summer and into September, kicking off a fall market unlike we have seen in many years,” said Derrick Swaak, partner and managing broker with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty and 2020 NVAR president-elect.
Decreased inventory levels of homes for sale, coupled with increased buyer demand, has created a true sellers’ market in most segments of the market, Swaak said, with homes finding a purchaser in near record time and generally at or even above listing price.
“Buyers are competing for a limited supply of homes for sale, often agreeing to drop contract contingencies or to include escalation clauses against other offers,” Swaak said.
Every jurisdiction in the NVAR service area showed an increase in the average sold price of homes. The average sales price in the region reached $690,981 in September – a jump of 15 percent over 2019.
Sellers, some of whom are taking a now-or-never approach after having stayed on the fence since COVID broke out, have hopped into the market to test the willingness of buyers to meet their price.
“What is encouraging is that new-listing inventory is up 30 percent over 2019, which allows more buyers to have an opportunity to purchase a home. Sellers are recognizing that the low inventory of available homes for sale, combined with historically low interest rates, works in their favor,” Lagos said.
While active listings in September continued to remain below the number of homes available last year, the year-over-year downward gap in inventory has been closing.
In May and June, active listings were about 30 percent lower than the same time period in 2019. That difference fell to the teens in July and August. In September, there were 5.76 percent fewer listings compared to last year, although that rate varies by jurisdiction.
Looking forward, Swaak notes signs of a very slight slowdown deeper into the fall as more listings hit the market and the pace of new contracts slows.
“This is particularly true in the upper end of the market, for single-family homes over $2 million and condos priced above $1 million, where inventory has entered a more balanced, or possibly even a buyers’, market,” he said.
Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision.
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