As soon as Central Virginians were released from their springtime COVID-19 lockdown, apparently many of them ran out of the house and bought new homes.
Figures from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors show 2020’s third-quarter home sales for the region jumped 10% as compared with the same three-month period in 2019.
CAAR’s third-quarter report, released Monday, shows 1,447 homes were sold between July and September and median sales prices grew $21,900 to $326,900, a 7% rise from the third quarter of 2019.
CAAR figures include Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.
“The jump in sales this quarter likely reflects some buyers who paused their home searches during the early months of the ongoing pandemic and who decided to resume the buying process over the summer,” the report states. “The total sales statewide jumped up 17% in the third quarter compared to last year, which reflects a widespread rebound in housing markets around the commonwealth.”
In Central Virginia, the median home sales price in the last quarter was about 25% higher than the third quarter of 2015, when the median sales price was about $259,900.
Charlottesville median sales prices rose 11%, as did Greene County prices. Prices rose 7% in Albemarle and Nelson counties and 8% in Louisa and Fluvanna counties, the report shows.
Albemarle homes had the highest median sales price, at $408,000, while Charlottesville’s median sales price was $392,000. Greene sales came in at a median of $290,000 and Louisa’s median sales prices was $280,000.
Fluvanna’s median sales price was $247,000, the report shows, and Nelson’s was $237,000.
“Sales prices are up because more buyers are chasing fewer homes because there is less inventory,” said Tom Woolfolk, CAAR president and a Realtor with Keller Williams Alliance, in Charlottesville. “The number of homes up for sale dropped 47% in this quarter over last year and there weren’t a flock of homes up for sale last year, either.”
Although the report shows median sales prices in Charlottesville rose, the number of homes sold in the city dropped 4% quarter over quarter. Greene County saw a similar scenario, with the number of homes sold falling about 5% while the median sales price of homes rose.
On the other hand, Nelson County saw a 50% increase in the number of homes sold in the third quarter of this year, compared with the same time last year, and Louisa County saw a 24% rise in the number of sales. Fluvanna County saw an 11% rise in the number of homes sold and Albemarle County saw a 3% increase, compared with the previous year.
The report shows there was about a 2.5-month supply of homes for sale on the market at the end of the quarter in the CAAR footprint, compared with enough homes to last 4.7 months a year ago. The supply is calculated by taking the average monthly sales during the preceding 12 months and dividing it by the inventory of active listings.
According to the report, a supply of less than six months favors sellers rather than buyers. The inventory in the Charlottesville market showed 75 homes listed for sale at the end of September, 52% fewer than at the end of September 2019.
The overall supply of active listings in Virginia at the end of the third quarter was 39% lower than a year ago, the report shows.
Woolfolk said an increase in homes sold in Charlottesville’s surrounding counties could reflect the scarcity of homes for sale in the city.
“There are no studies to prove it, but if people can afford to buy a home but can’t find one they want for the price they want to pay in town, they have to look elsewhere,” he said. “For the longest time, Nelson County seemed to languish in home sales and now they’ve since this big increase.”
Woolfolk said the ability to work from home may allow people to purchase property farther away from town.
“If you have good internet service and you’re working from home anyway during this pandemic, you can live somewhere other than in town,” he said. “That may play an important role in the future of home sales.”
The report shows new residential construction activity increased during the summer. More than 75% of new units permitted were single-family homes. Only 72 permits for townhomes, condominiums and multi-family units were issued.
Woolfolk said affordable housing and racial equity in the housing market are issues that still need to be addressed.
“These are long-term problems in the market that need attention, and we try to keep moving in a positive direction,” he said.
The region appears to be on track to overcome the spring quarter COVID restrictions and have as good of a year as 2019 as far as sales, Woolfolk said.
“The end of the last quarter set a torrid pace and we think that will bring some momentum into the last quarter of the year,” he said. “It looks like it will be as good a year as 2019, despite the way it started out.”