July’s housing numbers for the Charlottesville region

The July numbers were interesting, to say the least. Continuing the trend I began last month, I’m comparing 2004 to 2007. I think that this tactic provides better perspective on the real estate market; this traditionally illiquid  market needs to be considered on at least an annual basis, rather than a month-to-month or weekly basis.

Sales are fairly consistent this year, and average list and sales prices are up over the three year period. Notably the percent difference between the average list and sales prices are about the same (days on market numbers are clearly inaccurate). Inventory levels and absorption rates remain very high, but properties are selling.

2004 Sold – Charlottesville & Albemarle – Single Family homes, attached homes and condos
2004 All Sold Charlottesville & Albemarle

2007 Sold – Charlottesville & Albemarle – Single Family homes, attached homes and condos
2007 All Sold Charlottesville & Albemarle

Sales are down in Charlottesville/Albemarle when comparing 2004 to 2007 – 28%.

One of the prevailing arguments has been that condos skew the numbers; depending on which argument you’re making, they prop the market up by providing affordable housing (which they do) or they skew the numbers and make it appear that sales are artificially high (which they do in certain price ranges) Removing the condos from the equation:

2004 Sold – Charlottesville & Albemarle – Single Family homes and attached homes
No Condos - Sold In Charlottesville Albemarle 2004

2007 Sold – Charlottesville & Albemarle – Single Family homes and attached homes
No Condos - Sold In Charlottesville Albemarle 2007
June and July have significant differences between 2004 and 2007. July sales are down a mere 29%.

I was in a continuing education class yesterday and it was mentioned that the NAR and local Realtor associations have a responsibility to spin the numbers in a positive light. This same argument was made on another real estate blog yesterday. There is some truth to this, but isn’t there more currency in being the trusted, credible source rather than being regarded as a self-serving shill? There is a very delicate balance between projecting positivity and optimism and projecting delusion and no credibility.

Maybe the market is picking up. Mortgage applications were up last week, or sales are merely “delayed“.  Either way, calling a market “bottom” from within the eye of the storm is premature and irresponsible. Those who can afford to buy, and take the time to educate themselves (in part by hiring good representation) should seriously consider buying now. Rates are low, some pricing is aggressive and there certainly is more negotiating going on.

But … to generalize any real estate market, even our own, is unwise. In the afore-mentioned class yesterday there were at least five different opinions on the Charlottesville area market. One agent said that she had lost out on three different properties with the same buyers due to multiple offers. I have been involved in several multiple offer situations over the past few months (few of which have been at the listing price) but still, there is quantifiable demand in our market.

Why do I look at the housing data so often and from so many angles? (I don’t publish everything I study) For at least two reasons – it helps me to understand the market better and thusly helps me represent my clients – both buyers and sellers – much more effectively.

Disclaimer: New construction numbers are notoriously unreliable, as many sales are put into the MLS after the contract has been signed, if ever at all. Thus days on market are skewed and cancellations (where the buyer terminates the contract or defaults) are not included. Trying to pull the new construction data out of the the equation is equally unhelpful, so I just leave everything in.

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For the entire region, including Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson:

2004 Sold - CharlottesvilleMSA - Single Family Homes, Attached Homes And Condos

2007 Sold - Charlottesville MSA - Single Family Homes, Attached Homes And Condos

Sales are down approximately 38% between the two time periods.

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