Real estate housing

Charlottesville and Albemarle County real estate markets remained strong, although relatively high median sale prices and low inventory pushed entry-level buyers to look elsewhere, officials with the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors said. Seen here are the Pavilions at Pantops in Albemarle.

Heat from Charlottesville’s and Albemarle County’s hot real estate markets set fire to the markets of nearby counties during 2018, according to information released by the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors.

The fourth-quarter market report for 2018, released Wednesday, showed a strong Central Virginia real estate market with a nearly 6 percent increase in the number of homes sold and a rise in median sales price.

“Economists have told us that as long as the economy keeps doing what it’s doing, there won’t likely be too many increases in interest rates. That should keep the market strong,” said Tele Jenifer, CAAR president.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County markets remained strong, although relatively high median sale prices and low inventory pushed entry-level buyers to look elsewhere, CAAR officials said.

Home sales in Nelson and Greene counties skyrocketed in the last quarter of the 2018, with 48 percent and 25 percent increases, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, the report showed.

Year-to-date figures showed Nelson’s sales up 23.4 percent and Greene’s increasing 13.2 percent.

Charlottesville home sales were up 7 percent in 2018 compared with the previous year, while Albemarle sales were up 4.2 percent for the same time frame.

 “Albemarle County and Charlottesville still had low inventories of homes for sale and higher median prices, so we saw a lot of people in entry-level markets looking to other counties,” Jenifer said. “That’s where Nelson County and Greene County really excelled last year.”

Charlottesville’s median home sales price for the last three months of 2018 was $344,500, while Albemarle’s was $396,064, the report showed.

Nelson’s median sales price for the last three months of the year was $253,493, while Greene’s was $239,500.

Fluvanna County homes sales slowed to about the same level as last year with two-tenths of a percent drop in sales, while Louisa County ticked up 1.8 percent in sales for the year.

That pretty much jibes with the national market, according to figures released by the National Association of Realtors.

“Ninety percent of markets are experiencing price gains while very few are experiencing consistent price declines,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the national association. “2017 was the best year for home sales in 10 years, and 2018 is only down 1.5 percent year to date.”

“Our area tends to stay ahead of the national market and what we saw last year pretty much stayed true to that,” Jenifer said of the local area.

Jenifer said she believes the local real estate market offers sellers a unique chance to appeal to a strong buyer demand and that buyers are willing to look farther away from Charlottesville to find something affordable.

“There are a lot of buyers right now at a variety of price levels,” she said. “If I had a client who was debating whether to enter the market, my advice would be to get the house prepared and put it out there.”

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Bryan McKenzie is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7271, bmckenzie@dailyprogress.com or @BK_McKenzie on Twitter.

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