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Region's housing market sees fewer for-sale signs and higher prices

Central Virginia’s real estate market saw fewer homes sell for more money and sales shift away from Charlottesville and Albemarle County during the first quarter of 2021, according to a quarterly report compiled by the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors.

The report shows 3% fewer homes sold in the region in the first three months of 2021 compared with the first three months of 2020, while median sale prices rose by $33,000, or 11%, for the same period.

At the same time, the number of homes for sale at the end of the quarter dropped 61% from the same time last year, the report shows.

Greene County sales plummeted by 27% between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, while the number of homes sold in Charlottesville dropped 22% and Albemarle County homes sold fell by 14%.

In the meantime, Nelson County sales soared in the first quarter, with 41% more homes sold in 2021 compared with the same time last year. Louisa County saw a 19% rise in homes sold and Fluvanna County had a 16% rise.

CAAR covers the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Louisa and Fluvanna counties.

“We’re still seeing big gains in the outlying areas because they have the inventory and, for the prices, we have a great portion of the area population that can afford homes there,” said CAAR President Quinton Beckham, broker and owner of Keller Williams Alliance. “People are getting pushed out to where they can afford to buy or have more choices.”

Beckham said the combination of lower home prices in outlying counties, pent-up demand in the region and low supply of homes for sale means median prices will continue to rise, even if fewer homes are sold.

“There is a reduction of inventory but the demand is still there as the supply side of the equation is getting smaller and smaller,” Beckham said.

Real estate, like other commodities, has different seasonal markets. It has traditionally sluggish winter sales and stronger summer and fall seasons. The industry normally judges the year-to-year market performance by quarters.

The CAAR report calls the first-quarter housing market “flat,” noting the minor reduction in homes sold but also noting that home sales stalled in March after strong sales figures in January and February.

The pullback in March sales likely reflects the very low supply in the region, which has given buyers very few options, the report states.

“The CAAR area market is one of the most competitive in Virginia as the supply of active listings continues to shrink rapidly,” the report states. “The chronically low supply in the region’s housing market reflects broader market trends both in other parts of Virginia and nationally.”

According to state figures, there were 15,787 active listings across the state at the end of the first quarter. That’s down 46% compared with a year ago.

Beckham said he believes much of the demand is fueled by younger adults getting jobs, getting married and having children.

“We have a whole generation entering the market, and that generation is fueling a lot of demand. They’re making kids, they’re settling into jobs and they’re no longer in a space where living out of a condo on the Downtown Mall is attractive,” he said.

Beckham said the low supply is likely caused by a variety of reasons. One is the surge in home improvements during COVID-caused social restrictions. Another is that while homeowners may be interested in getting top dollar for their homes, they are concerned about finding homes they can afford to move into when theirs sell.

“I think a lot of people have really invested a lot of time and money into the houses they’re in during COVID-19 [restrictions]. They’ve settled in,” he said. “Between the fear of not having a place they can afford to move to and the investment in the homes they’re in, I think we’re going to see fewer homes on the market this year.”

Homes in the region sold quickly. They ranged from an average of 25 days on the market in Fluvanna County to as long as 68 days in Nelson County. Charlottesville homes sold, on average, after about a month on the market, and Albemarle County homes were available for an average 51 days before sale.

Median sale prices, the prices for which as many homes sold for more as sold for less, rose 11% over the first quarter of 2020 to $335,000 across the region.

Nelson County led the region with median sale prices skyrocketing 46% from $211,500 in the first quarter of 2020 to $308,000 in 2021’s first three months.

Albemarle County median sale prices rose 7%, from $389,421 in 2020’s first quarter to $416,448 this year. Charlottesville sale prices rose 18%, from $337,000 in 2020’s first three months to $396,200 this year.

Fluvanna County prices jumped 14% to $271,000 this year from last year’s first-quarter price of $237,000. Greene County saw a 15% price rise from $275,000 to $315,450, and Louisa County prices rose 12% from 2020’s $249,975 to 2021’s first-quarter cost of $280,000.

“Despite the slowdown this quarter, home prices in the region continue to surge,” the report states. “The low supply of homes continues to make for a very competitive market for buyers, which, in addition to driving up home prices around the region, is also causing homes to sell much faster, on average.”


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