Real estate inventory down, sales up

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Homebuyers continued to find fewer homes and higher prices than they would have a year ago in Northern Virginia in October, a trend that is expected to continue into the next year. The Northern Virginia market includes the city of Alexandria, and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Low interest rates, strong employment and relatively high consumer confidence has buyers out shopping for homes, said Larry “Boomer” Foster, president of Long & Foster Real Estate. Lack of inventory and strong demand pushed prices higher.

Source: Long & Foster

Alexandria was the only section of the region to see inventory rise – at just 2 percent – but that increase wasn’t enough to cover strong demand. The number of units sold rose 32 percent compared to October 2016, and prices rose 5 percent.

“It’s more of what we have been seeing over the past year: decreasing inventory levels, increasing median sale prices, and days on the market continuing to go down,” Foster said. “Northern Virginia has traditionally been strong because the employment situation is better than most places in the United States. Affordability is a challenge, but some of the wealthiest counties in the nation are here, and average wages are higher.”

Days on the market remained low in October, ranging between 32 and 44 days, while homes continued to bring nearly full list price. Foster said the current conditions are likely to continue through 2018.

A buyer in this market needs to enlist the help of a reputable agent who will be proactive in seeking out homes for sale in desired locations, Foster said. That could mean the agent is knocking on doors or writing letters to potential home sellers. Chances of helping a client secure a home also increase when the buyer has preliminary mortgage approval from a lender.

Foster cautioned that affordability could become more of a challenge for buyers in the coming year, when interest rates are expected to edge higher.

“If interest rates move up and prices continue to appreciate, as we believe they will, then the house you want today could be unaffordable for you in the future,” Foster said. “So if you want to get in, get in now. Don’t wait.”

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Truman Lewis

A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.