It was back in 2004 – when a national housing bubble was beginning to build (and four years before it popped, with devastating consequences) – that so many homes sold across Northern Virginia in October as the 2,220 properties that went to closing last month.
The result of the increased sales coupled with spiraling prices resulted in total sales volume up 42 percent year-over-year in October, as the Northern Virginia market continued to close the gap with the year-end-2019 sales total despite having the spring 2020 sales market wiped out by COVID and its resulting government-mandated lockdowns.
“It is truly a great time to be a home seller,” acknowledged Christine Richardson of Weichert, Realtors, the immediate past president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR).
October’s sales total rose 21.1 percent from a year before, according to figures reported Nov. 13 by NVAR. Sales were up – in amounts ranging from 20 percent to 65 percent – in each of the reporting jurisdictions of Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.
The average sales price of all properties also was on the march, rising just under 11 percent to $673,955 and up in every jurisdiction except Falls Church, where there are a relatively small number of sales each month (18 in October).
If all this might lead one to worry about a repeat of the 2001-07 housing bubble (and subsequent 2008-09 crash), there is one other worrisome sign – homes are going from listing to ratified sales contract in an average of 17 days, down from 24 days a year before, as buyers hope to buy into while they can.
The result was a month where total sales volume nudged up toward $1.5 billion, a remarkable figure for what is not traditionally one of the most robust months of the year in local real estate.
Prospective sellers who have been straddling the fence in recent months are deciding to jump in and put their homes up for adoption.
“For the first time since April 2016, the number of monthly active listings has reflected a year-over-year increase, said Nicholas Lagos, NVAR’s president for 2020 and an associate broker with Century 21 New Millennium.
“We continue to be encouraged by new-listing inventory, which is up by more than 42 percent over last year,” Lagos said. “This provides a greater opportunity for buyers to enter the market, especially with historically low interest rates.”
Those rates are convincing some prospective purchasers to act, and may be encouraging them to aim high – or at least be willing to start low and then fight out a bidding war should the need arise.
“There are opportunities out there for both sellers and buyers to get what they want,” Richardson said, although it may take a combination of patience and nerves of steel.
“In the past four to six weeks, I have had several buyer-clients successfully contract to buy a home after bidding on a number of homes throughout the spring and summer,” she said.
In Arlington, home to Amazon’s incoming “HQ2” and a locality where some sellers were reported to be holding on to their homes in hopes of a bigger payout, October’s active listings were more than 116 percent above the number of available homes in October last year.
“While we can’t know with certainty what has prompted the strong uptick in listings, a combination of things – including low mortgage rates, significant price gains, a need for differently configured homes and the desire for outdoor living space – could be motivating factors,” said Ryan McLaughlin, NVAR’s CEO.
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