Charlottesville-area home sales dropped during the first three months of 2019, but at the same time, home prices ticked upward and the number of homes on the market remained about the same, according to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors’ first-quarter real estate report.
However, the association’s president says sales are increasing as the area is in the busy spring home-buying season.
“We saw a small decline across the region, but in the last two weeks or so, it’s really gone gangbusters,” said Tele Jenifer, CAAR president and a Realtor with Real Estate III. “Our second quarter is usually the best, and it looks like it will get going.”
Jenifer said the usual winter doldrums, nasty weather and political issues likely suppressed sales.
“I think people feel more confident. The first two months of the year, it seemed like we had rain, rain and more rain, and before that there was the whole government shutdown that created a lot of worry,” she said.
According to the report, issued Thursday, the first three months of 2019 saw similar sales rates as the last three months of 2018, which also slowed compared with the rest of last year.
“The housing market in the CAAR footprint is showing signs of softening demand, though the tight inventory of homes available for sale is keeping upward pressure on prices in some local markets,” the report states. “While sales and sold dollar volume fell, sales prices rose modestly [in the region].”
According to the report, combined sales in Albemarle, Nelson, Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa counties and the city of Charlottesville dropped 6% in the first three months of 2019, as compared with the first quarter of 2018.
A new Greene County development spiked that county’s home sales by 37%. Charlottesville saw a 1% growth in homes sales, while Fluvanna County sales dropped by 1%.
Nelson County had a 15% decrease in sales, Albemarle County saw a 13% decrease and Louisa County sales dropped 6% in the first quarter compared with same time period last year.
According to the report, the median home sale price in the region was $285,750 in the first quarter of 2019, a 1% increase from the previous year. But the increases were not equally distributed.
Charlottesville’s median home sales price increased by 11%, from about $315,000 in the first quarter of 2018 to an estimated $350,000 in this year’s first quarter. Greene median sales rose from $248,500 to $270,000 in the same period.
Those were the only increases in the region, however.
Nelson prices fell 12%, from $215,000 in the first quarter of 2018 to $190,000 in the first three months of 2019, and Albemarle prices dropped 6%, from 2018’s $370,000 median sale price to 2019’s $346,320.
Fluvanna prices also fell, down 5% from 2018’s $224,000 to $212,185 in 2019, and Louisa median sales prices ticked down 1% from $225,000 to $221,950.
“Sales prices have been rising steadily each quarter in much of the region over the past two years,” the report states. “The rising prices are reflective of the historically low level of active listings, which is putting upward pressure on price points through much of the CAAR region.”
Jenifer said that it’s still a good time to list a home for sale, as most homes stayed on the market for about 85 days in the first three months of the year. She said properly preparing a home for sale will bring both a better price and sell faster.
Jenifer noted that some new housing is price competitive with existing housing. For example, she said median sale prices of attached single-family homes — such as townhomes and condominiums — are close enough to prices of existing traditional single-family unattached homes to give buyers an option.
“New single-family, unattached homes in Albemarle County are selling at a median of $658,000, while existing unattached homes are selling for a median price of $424,000,” she said. “When you consider that new attached homes are selling at $374,000, that gives buyers an affordable choice.”
Jenifer said that making a home ready for sale with repairs and improvements could make it sell faster and bring a better price.
“Inventory of homes for sale remains a little tight, but it’s not really a sellers’ market out there, so the best advice is to get your home fixed up and ready to present to buyers,” she said. “If it’s not, buyers may go look somewhere else.”