Real estate market

A for-sale sign sits on the lawn at 661 Evergreen Ave. in downtown Charlottesville.

Charlottesville-area home sales were up 8% in the third quarter of 2019 on a year-to-year basis, fueled by consumer confidence in the economy, low unemployment and low interest rates, according to a Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors report released Friday.

“There were 1,311 sales in the third quarter, which is 99 more sales than a year ago,” the report states. “This is the first sales gain at the region level since the summer of 2018, and the largest gain since the first quarter of 2018.”

Nelson County led the charge with a 34% increase in sales for the third quarter of this year compared with the same time period in 2018. Fluvanna County home sales showed a 26% increase in 2019’s third quarter compared with the previous year.

Albemarle County showed a 5% increase in home sales, Greene County saw a 3% increase, Louisa County sales rose 2% and Charlottesville home sales increased 1% in the third quarter compared with the previous year.

CAAR’s report does not address sales in Buckingham, Orange or Madison counties.

“Sales were sluggish the first two quarters of this year, but our third quarter did pick up,” said CAAR President Tele Jenifer, of Real Estate III. “Buyers were active because of the economy, because interest rates are low and are making offers because there is a low inventory of houses for sale on the market.”

Jenifer also credited home-sellers with taking steps to make their properties appeal to buyers.

“Seller are getting their homes ready for sale and doing all of things we recommend like making repairs that may be necessary,” she said. “Everything in real estate is about negotiation, and a lot of sellers are helping buyers with closing costs and other incentives.”

According to the report, the median sale price of homes also increased.

“Home prices in the CAAR regional market continue to climb at a steady pace. At $305,000, the third quarter median sales price was 2% higher than a year ago, a gain of over $6,700,” the report states. “This increase was slightly below the price growth in prior years, largely driven by the modest 1% gains in Albemarle County.”

Median home sale prices dropped in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the previous year, but made a rebound the rest of the year, the report shows.

Albemarle led the region with a median sale price of $380,000 in the third quarter. Charlottesville’s median sale price was $355,000, Greene’s was $265,000, Louisa’s was $255,900, Fluvanna’s was $231,000 and Nelson’s was $222,000, the study shows.

“There has been some variability across the local markets, but the general upward trend for home prices has been fairly consistent in the CAAR area,” the report states. “The tight inventory and strong economic conditions in the region are playing a role in the upward pressure on home prices.”

According to the study, Fluvanna County home sale prices led the region with a 10% rise in the third quarter as compared with the same time frame in 2018.

Louisa County prices rose 9%, Greene County prices saw an 8% rise, Charlottesville median prices rose 4%, Nelson County median prices went up 3% and Albemarle County had a 1% increase in the third quarter of 2019 compared with the same time in 2018.

Homes across the region spent an average of 53 days on the market before a sale, the report shows. Charlottesville homes sold the quickest, with an average of 34 days up for sale, while Nelson homes took the longest to sell at 125 days on the market.

Across the area, 1,746 homes were listed on the market, the fewest in five years and a 3% decline from the same three-month period a year ago.

Jenifer said she expects the usual holiday sales downturn to be less this year considering the tight supply of homes and the favorable economic factors.

“I think that as long as the interest rates remain low and the economy good, we’ll see it do comparatively well,” she said. “I don’t think the fourth quarter will be as good as the third because historically the holidays are busy and fewer people are home-shopping. But it could turn out pretty well.”

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