Talk to most any real estate agent about Loudoun County’s housing market, and you’ll get a resounding, possibly out of breath, response.
“It’s good. It’s healthy. It’s exciting,” Shaila R. Millman, a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty, said this week.
There’s a lot to be excited about, particularly if you’re a seller.
The February market trends report released by the Dulles Area Association of Realtors this week shows that home prices and total sale volume are up—way up—over last year. More than 360 sales closed last month, up 11 percent over February 2015. The median sales price rose to $415,000, $6,000 higher than last year and $116,000 higher than 2009, when the market was in its slump.
Those stats coupled with record low inventory has meant most homes are selling fast.
Millman, who is the director of Dulles Association Realtors, can rattle off a dozen recent listings in various parts of the county—Sterling, Aldie, Leesburg and western Loudoun—that have sold in seven or fewer days.
One was a single-family home 4 miles outside Purcellville that was put on the market in what Millman referred to as “the dead of winter.” It sold in four days, and she continued to get calls about it days after it was under contract.
“When I get something selling that fast and with that interest level when there’s still snow on the ground, that tells me we’re going to have a hot market,” Millman said.
The surge in activity last month may be, in part, attributable to an unusually slow January. The DAAR’s trends report for January showed the market took a hit, with new contracts falling by 4.6 percent, the first decline in 16 months.
“I think there was this pent-up energy in the market, probably from the snow storms,” said Allison Metzger, a partner and Realtor at Picket Fence Realty, based in Leesburg. A low inventory combined with a lot of people ready to buy at the recent low interest rates has made for a seller’s market, she said. “Sellers are seeing multiple bids at this point.”
Some of the activity may also be spurred on by websites, apps and other relatively new technology that gives both buyers and sellers more information at their finger tips, according to Millman.
For sellers, their agents can keep tabs on market trends using sites like RealEstateMatrix.com to make an informed decision about when to put a home on the market and for how much. “So agents can see the realistic market trends, and anything that is realistically priced is going to move within a manner of days,” Millman said.
On the other hand, buyers have websites like Pinterest and Houzz that offer ideas for showcasing and remodeling homes, and also Zillow, that publishes prices of homes for sale. All of this has generated high expectations for what buyers want in a home, Millman said. “They want a house that’s show ready. … And if a seller is really savvy, they’ll use the newest colors, designs and flooring and it’s going to sell fast.”
Another tool that she credits to the quick turnaround of homes is photography that allows prospective buyers to virtually tour a home. Century 21 Redwood Realty, based in Ashburn, started posting virtual tours about two years ago and has since seen homes move faster and buyers request to visit fewer homes in person. “By the time they get to the property, they’re familiar with it and they’re excited about it,” Millman said.
Metzger predicts homes in Loudoun County will continue to sell fast until early summer, especially if the number of properties for sale remains low. “It always eventually falls off a little bit, but it doesn’t seem like there’s enough people jumping to put their homes on the market right now.”
And while the numbers indicate a seller’s market, Millman said that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to buy. “It’s a fantastic time to buy. The price points are really affordable for many people,” she said. But market trends show they’re on the rise, she added. “Buy now because prices are going up.”