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Year-over-year home sales across Northern Virginia dipped about 20 percent in April as the COVID-19 pandemic causes a momentary standstill in the market, and new data show there are probably a few more rough patches to go.

A total of 1,725 properties changed hands across the region in April, according to figures reported May 12 by MarketStats by ShowingTime. That’s down from 2,160 transactions a year before.

(Figures represent sales in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.)

“As expected, the April market saw a decrease in overall sales volume, primarily due to the stay-at-home orders imposed by Gov. Northam in early March,” said Nicholas Lagos, chairman of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and associate broker with Century 21 New Millennium in Arlington

Sales were down in every jurisdiction except the city of Fairfax, as “the pandemic has affected our normally active spring listing rush,” Lagos said.

But – so far, at least – it has yet to impact the bottom line, as the average sales price of all properties that went to closing during the month stood at $667,527, up 7.5 percent from a year before, and was higher in all three sectors of the market:

• The average price of single-family homes rose 6.5 percent to $872,523.

•  The average price of attached homes, such as townhouses and rowhouses, grew 9.1 percent to $485,432.

• The average price of condominiums rose 4.3 percent to $381,888.

A total of 196 properties changed hands for more than $1 million, including 10 for more than $2.5 million and two for more than $5 million.

Average sales prices were higher in every jurisdiction in the monthly report, and ranged from $611,641 in the city of Fairfax to $1,023,607 in the city of Falls Church.

Add it all up, and the total market volume of transactions for the month stood at $1.15 billion, down 14.3 percent from a year before.

Despite that decline, the tight inventory that has afflicted the market has kept prospective buyers on their toes to act fast – 13 days was the average length of time between a listing and ratified sales contract – and offer top dollar. The average sales price represented 100.5 percent of original listing price, up from 99.9 percent a year before.

“We are in a severe housing shortage ,which means more of a competitive situation for buyers,” said Deborah Baxter, principal broker/co-owner of Coppermine Realty in Clifton and a Northern Virginia Association of Realtors’ board member.

“Interestingly, the type of housing that is selling [best] is single-family homes, then condos and lastly townhomes,” Baxter said. “The National Association of Realtors has reported that more people are buying multi-generational homes, and first-time home buyers are going for condos; the townhome that used to be the young family’s first-time buy isn’t necessarily the case anymore.”

At the national level, it is expected that the market will recover some of its mojo once the pandemic subsides, but there is still an expectation that the summer and fall markets will only make up for a portion of the sales lost in the spring. Traditionally, Northern Virginia tends to be better positioned for a recovery than some other areas of the country.

The region “is dominated by the professional and business-services sector, which helps to stabilize us,” said Terry Clower of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. The federal government underpinnings also contribute to that stabilizing effect, Clower added.

But, in the short term, there will be some pain – the number of pending sales for April was down more than 28 percent from a year before, suggesting the downturn will accelerate at least for a time before it stabilizes.

Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision.


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