HOUSING UPDATE

Ryan Homes has started another section of townhouses on Williams Street in the Cedar Spring subdivision off John Marshall Highway in Strasburg.

Following what could be considered one of the hottest years for the housing market in recent memory in 2020, one real estate professional said that the 2021 market was “boring.”

“If you were looking for excitement in the 2021 Shenandoah Valley, Virginia real estate market, you are going to be disappointed,” said Mike Cooper, principal broker for Cornerstone Business Group in Winchester.

Cooper said though the 2021 market had both highs and lows, “overall it was just plain boring.”

Cooper said data showed that Frederick and Shenandoah counties both saw fewer sales in 2021 and Winchester and Clarke and Warren counties only saw marginal growth. Overall, Cooper said the five localities together saw a -1% decrease in sales.

Clarke County saw the most growth when looking at 2021 home sales versus 2020 sales, with a 4.8% increase while Warren County saw 3% growth in overall sales and Winchester saw just a 0.5% increase.

“It is not the material that hit TV cable shows are made from, but it shows a slow steady pace of stable grow with few surprises,” Cooper said. “It may also signal that the days of multiple offers, crazy overpriced offers and non-contingency offers are in jeopardy, and who would not applaud that?”

Cooper said one data point that was “phenomenal” in 2021 was the the number of distressed sales, or the sale of homes either under foreclosure, pre-foreclosure or under the control of the lender or bank.

Foreclosures and short sales in the five localities made up about 0.75% of home sales in the region.

“That may make the crafty low-ball investor sour, but it is another good sign that market sales are healthy in the Valley,” Cooper said.

One aspect that continued to rise in the region’s market was the median sale price.

Cooper said data shows that sales prices in the five localities collectively increased by about 16%.

"I can promise you that if you were a home seller in 2021, that excited you when you sold,” he said.

Clarke County had the lowest change in median sales price at $430,000, or a 7.5% increase over 2020. Winchester City saw a 9.8% increase in median sales price to $280,000. Shenandoah County jumped 13% to $253,000, Frederick County moved up 17.5% at $348,000 and Warren County hit 19.17% over the previous year to a median sale price of $317,000.

Monitoring the days on the market continued to be a challenge in 2021, Cooper said, adding that when a market like the Northern Shenandoah Valley has low inventory that homes will sell quicker.

Of the 4,276 sales in the Valley last year, most (3,548) were sold in 0-30 days, with 83% of all sales taking place in the first 30 days, Cooper said.

“That can reveal a number of things to an observer. Inventory is still low, and buyers are grabbing up houses as quickly as they hit the market, often, sight unseen,” he said. “Also, the houses may simply be priced well, and the sellers are ready to move on.”

One statistic attached to those 0-30 days on the market sales is the price buyers paid, Cooper said. The average sold price compared to the original list price was 100.82% in the region.

“In other words, homes sold for more than their list price,” Cooper explained. “The current market is still a red-hot sellers’ market. Of the five localities, Clarke County is the only location that sold below the original list price. The average 0-30 closed sales prices were 99.72% of the original list price.”

Another important aspect in those situations is the means by which a buyer is financing.

Fifteen percent (or 642 sales) of all sales in the region were paid in cash, Cooper said. Cash sales can shorten closing times, which puts more home sales in that 0-30 days category.

Conventional financing was the major financing method with 2,346 properties choosing that option, Cooper said. Government loans and special financing options made up the rest.

Overall, Cooper said the region’s home market in 2021 “was not sexy.”

“But it also was not a nail-biting rollercoaster ride of sheer terror with an abrupt end,” he said. “I will take boring any day.”

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com

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