Around the Region: Home Sellers Still in Driver’s Seat

Despite astrong local economy, some homebuyers may be sidelined by the mortgage application process and lean inventory, reports the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

“Although Northern Virginia sellers remain in the driver’s seat, our September data regarding rising home values is a positive indicator to those wondering about market headwinds,” stated 2018 NVAR Chairman of the Board Lorraine Arora.

She pointed out that the average price increase of nearly 4 percent and the 3 percent rise in median sales price provide an encouraging picture for long-term appreciation gains.

“Despite the volatility in the stock market and Federal Reserve decisions, homes that are priced and show well are selling,” Arora said. “Today’s consumers are savvy and know what they like and do not like and are willing to pay.”

Although inventory remains tight, buyers are not rushing to pull the trigger to purchase right now, stated Gary P. Lange, managing broker of Weichert in Vienna.

“The buyers are looking for move-in ready homes with all the bells and whistles,” he said. “If a home isn’t in tip-top shape, it is sitting. Sellers are trying to get top spring market prices and that just isn’t going to happen in fall and winter months. Sellers need to temper their expectations and be willing to do necessary updates to compel buyers to look at their property as ‘the home of choice.’ If they cannot do that, they need to lower their price.

“We’ve seen instances where buyers keep a home on the radar and then pounce on it with other potential buyers when the seller lowers the price,” he added. “Advice to buyers would be to make an offer on a home you like while there is no competition and negotiate acceptable terms that work for both parties. In these cases, we are seeing flexibility by sellers.”

Some clients who want to buy are challenged by this region’s high prices coupled with rising rates. “We all know that the housing market is the bellwether for how interest rates impact economic growth,” stated NVAR CEO Ryan Conrad. “Since our region continues to add jobs, this is driving up local housing demand. Due to new construction declines, we see upward pressure on resales. By year’s end, we expect sales activity to be on a level with last year’s.”

By the Numbers

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors reports sales activity for Fairfax and Arlington counties, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church and the towns of Vienna, Herndon and Clifton.

A total of 1,427 homes sold in September 2018, a decrease of almost 12 percent compared with September 2017 home sales of 1,620.

Active listings decreased last month compared with 2017. Listings were down 9.32 percent below last year, with 4,134 active listings in September, compared with 4,560 homes available in September 2017. The average days on market for homes in September 2018 was 36 days, a decrease of 14.29 percent compared to the 42 days on market for homes in September 2017.

The average home sale price rose compared with last September, to $573,555. This is 3.63 percent above the September 2017 average price of $553,440.The median sold price of homes this September, which was $494,000, rose by 2.93 percent compared to September 2017, when the median price was $479,950.

The 1,652 new pending home sales in Northern Virginia in September were 5.92 percent fewer than the 1,756 contracts that were pending in September last year. Total pending sales of 2,001 in September were down by 9.78 percent, compared with 2,218 total pending contracts in September 2017.

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