Despite a surging economy and friendly labor market, home sales all around Virginia remained stagnant or decreased in March.
Statewide trends held true in Shenandoah County, according to sales reports from the local multiple listing system, but Frederick and Warren counties both bucked the trends and saw upticks in home sales.
Virginia REALTORS® March 2019 Home Sales Report showed low inventories around the state have caused a slowdown in the number of homes sold, but median sales prices increased to $280,700.
The lack of inventory also contributed to faster turnaround times for home sellers. The average day a house sat on the market in March was down to 61 days. In March 2018, the average time a home spent on the market was 64 days.
Dr. Lisa Sturtevant, the chief economist for Virginia REALTORS® stated in an email that tight windows for buying and selling homes can be a benefit for buyers if sellers are looking to move their homes fast.
Low supply, Sturtevant wrote, makes the market more constraining for first-time home buyers but overall, the market around the state is strong, though it varies by region.
“In general, housing market conditions are positive,” Sturtevant wrote. “The main reason for that positive outlook is that the underlying fundamentals that drive the housing market are positive - strong job growth, low unemployment, and low-interest rates.”
Shenandoah County’s market report tracked along the same lines as the statewide report. Active listings were down to 227 in March 2019 compared to 244 at the same time last year. Total dollar volume decreased 7.86 percent as well, as sales totaled $10,736,755 in March.
The tight market for buyers was good for sellers however, as the average sold price was up more than 8.5 percent to $214,735 and the average list price for homes sold was $214,434.
Sales in Warren County were lower than Shenandoah County (50 sales compared to 51) but were up from last year when only 47 units sold. Average and median sales prices for homes in Warren County were up as well to $275,346 and $254,500 respectively.
More homes were sold in Frederick County than Shenandoah and Warren combined in March. Sales were up 14 percent to 114 homes that lasted an average of 72 days on the market, higher than the statewide average but lower than Shenandoah and Warren.
Frederick County also broke the mold in terms of where its bulk of homes for sale sat in price range. Around the state and in Shenandoah as well as Warren, the most populated range is $200,000 to $299,999 — Frederick’s most populated range was the $300,000 to $399,999 range.
Prospective buyers are facing tight markets but have falling mortgage rates on their side, according to the REALTORS® report. The 30-year, fixed rate was down to 4.17 percent from 4.28 percent in March. Mortgage rates have been increasing since 2017 but are still “quite low by historic standards,” according to the report.
Sturtevant wrote that assessing and comparing the statewide market to regional and local markets use the same figures but drilling down into local trends is the most important information for buyers and sellers.
Besides trends from reports such as the Virginia REALTORS® and local data, key indicators of the health of the market include whether the region is adding jobs; how well or poor those jobs pay; the amount of inventory available and where interest rates are at, Sturtevant wrote.