January got off to a good start for Northern Virginia Realtors but Old Person Winter intervened and froze everything in sight, the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors reports. “NVAR’s January housing statistics reveal that our market started with reasonable momentum – more home sales than last January — in spite of Snowpocalypse’s show-stopping effects,” said NVAR CEO Ryan T. Conrad.
Noting that the active January NVAR listings of 3,259 were 6 percent higher than last January’s active listings of 3,074, Conrad said this might signal the long-awaited return to normalcy. New listings declined 10 percent, new under contracts declined about 5 percent and new pendings declined about 9 percent in January compared to 2015. The blizzard, he explained, slowed down showings and appointments.
Cabin Fever and TRID Rules
The kickoff to the New Year was hamstrung because of weather. “The historic snow storm impacted the number of new listings as well as the under contracts and new pending listings,” said Suzanne Granoski, a Realtor with RE/Max Executives in Alexandria and the 2016 NVAR Chairman Elect. “There are actually more pendings than last year at this time, and some of that can be attributed to the longer time it takes to close under the new TRID rules that went into effect on Oct. 3.” Current pendings are at 1,862, while last year at this time there were 1,778, which was 5 percent fewer.
“The sold transactions still indicate that the majority of properties on the market are selling in less than three months and over 90 percent selling in less than 180 days,” she explained.
“January 31 open houses were well attended with agents noting some record numbers,” Granoski observed. “The cabin fever from not being able to see things the week before brought out house hunters in droves,” she noted.
No Upper Hand
According to NVAR Chairman of the Board Virgil Frizzell, “Our January market statistics show that we continue to experience a relatively well-balanced residential real estate market, where neither sellers nor buyers have the upper hand. For the mid-range of homes, properly-priced properties in good shape sell relatively quickly,” he said. “More expensive homes, or homes that need work, may remain on the market longer.”
Frizzell noted that stable to somewhat lower mortgage rates may help some buyers make the decision to become sellers sooner rather than later. In addition, the unemployment rate locally of only 3 percent helps boost confidence in those who are considering a home purchase, he added. Also, where employment is strong, the need for housing increases, he said.