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Fewer home sales but higher prices stood as the story for January’s real-estate market across Northern Virginia.

A total of 1,065 properties went to closing during the first month of the year, a figure down about 5.6 percent from January 2019, according to figures reported Feb. 12 by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR).

Figures represent transactions in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.

The new year started as the old year ended, with a dearth of inventory.

“Listing inventory [at the end of 2019] in Northern Virginia was down 41 percent from 2018,” said Derrick Swaak, partner and managing broker of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in McLean, who is serving as NVAR’s president-elect for 2020.

The story is not a new one.

“The number of listings available for sale in Northern Virginia has been dropping steadily for the last four years, exacerbated by the Amazon HQ2 announcement in November of 2018,” Swaak said. “While we have come to expect multiple-offer situations in places like Arlington and Alexandria, we’re now seeing some homes in traditionally slower markets, such as Great Falls and Clifton, selling at close to full price in a matter of days.”

And, he cautioned, “There seems to be little expectation that the number of homes available for sale will rebound in 2020.”

Among component jurisdictions across the region, year-over-year sales were down everywhere but the city of Fairfax. The Northern Virginia median sales price of $520,000 for the month was up 5.1 percent, boosted by increases in Fairfax County and Alexandria; the other jurisdictions saw declines.

The average days on market between listing and ratified sale contract for homes that went to closing in January was 33 days, a significant improvement from the 44 days a year before, affirming the sellers’ market.

For buyers who want to get into a new property, there is not much to do but accept the current reality.

“The thirst for inventory continues to drive prices higher,” said NVAR president Nicholas Lagos, an associate broker with Century 21 New Millennium and broker/owner of Gawen Realty in Arlington. “Being prepared, organized and well-funded will be the key to securing a property.”

For details, see the Website at www.nvar.com/marketstats.

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