Va. home sales, October 2020

Virginia Realtors graphic shows year-over-year increase in home sales across the various geographic regions of the commonwealth in October 2020.

Virginia’s residential-real-estate market showed ongoing resilience in October, according to new figures, but the prospect of handcuffs being placed on the economy at the state or federal levels could cause the market’s recovery to sputter.

A total of 13,424 properties went to closing across the commonwealth in October, up 28.3 percent from the 10,460 transactions a year before, according to figures reported Nov. 18 by the Virginia Realtors trade group.

Sales were up in double-digit figures, ranging from 22 percent to 35 percent, in each of the eight geographic reporting areas of the commonwealth, with Northern Virginia seeing the highest increase, up 35.2 percent to 4,855.

In addition, the median sales price surged 14.8 percent to $333,000 statewide, the third month in a row of double-digit increases.

“Rising home prices are a boon for sellers, but higher prices are making affordability challenges worse for buyers, particularly first-time homebuyers,” said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist of Virginia Realtors.

(A year ago, more than 52 percent of homes sold in Virginia went to closing for less than $300,000; this October, that had declined to 43.4 percent of the overall market.)

Sales prices were up in double digits in every reporting area of the commonwealth, with the I-95/64 corridor from Northern Virginia down to Hampton Roads seeing median sales prices up 15 percent (to $450,000 in Northern Virginia, $305,000 in central Virginia and $271,417 in Hampton Roads). Even in less-pricey areas of the commonwealth along the North Carolina border, prices are seeing jumps, up 17.8 percent to $137,250 in Southside Virginia and up nearly 43 percent to $163,500 in Southside Virginia.

“Buyers must act very quickly in many markets across the commonwealth, and they can often face competition and bidding wars,” Sturtevant said.

Add it all up, and total sales volume across Virginia in October totaled $5.46 billion, nearly 49 percent from a year before. For the first 10 months of the year, including the COVID lockdowns of spring, sales volume is up 13 percent to $44 billion.

New listings coming to market have been up for several months, “a positive indicator for the market,” Sturtevant said. More homes available may ease the psychological pressure on prospective purchasers to grab the first thing they see – a trait that also accompanied the 2001-07 real-estate boom that preceded the national 2008-09 crash.

And the prospect of a housing “bubble” that ultimately bursts is only one concern for the market. Sturtevant pointed to the prospect of more stringent economic lockdowns, if COVID cases continue to rise before a vaccine becomes widely available, as another factor that could stifle both the economic rebound and the overall housing market.

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[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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