The First Seven Months of 2012 – Charlottesville Real Estate Market Update

The Questions:

– Can I sell my house in Charlottesville (area) right now?

– Should I buy a house in Charlottesville (area) right now?

Answer to both: It depends.

Buyers: If you need to live somewhere and know you’re going to be somewhere for at least 5-7 years, now might be a great time to buy … ** interest rates remain extremely low. But … there is a dearth of quality inventory on the market right now. I’m finding that buyers are searching for (much) longer timeframes, so that when the right house does come on the market, they are prepared. Start early; do your research and be prepared to move quickly when the right house comes on the market.

Sellers: If you need/want to sell, understand that buyers are still looking for quality and value … and that selling a home is work. (It’s hard work; I task my seller clients with loads of prep work) , but know this: unless your home is one that is priced and conditioned to sell in two weeks, be prepared to be patient. And to defend your price with data and facts, not emotions and expectations — neither buyers nor appraisers care about what you need/want to make or how much the house is worth to you.

Year over year:

(Inventory level = # of homes on the market)

Charlottesville – Inventory level is down nearly 20%, median price is up slightly to $255k – up about 7% (but still way below 2010)

Albemarle – Inventory level is down a bit, median price is up about 5%

Fluvanna – Inventory is down about 8%, as is the median price.

Greene – Inventory is down a little and the median price is up significantly – about 30% … keep in mind that this increase was based on 11 closed sales this July versus 19 the previous July.

Louisa – Inventory down about 23% while the median price down nearly 20%

Nelson – Always an inconsistent market due to the variety of product mix there … Inventory is down about 12% while median price is down 24%.

The takeaways from this month’s look at “what’s happening in the Charlottesville real estate market”:

1 – In some segments of the Charlottesville – Albemarle MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), the buyers’ market looks like it’s over. Good houses that are priced well are moving … sometimes in a matter of days and occasionally with multiple offers. Inventory is down, some prices are up. (Low Inventory isn’t necessarily a sign of recovery though)

2 – Foreclosures and short sales are still out there, and are seemingly comprising a smaller portion of the market than we’ve seen over the past few years. But there are anecdotes everywhere – I almost showed a short sale in Albemarle in which the asking price is $450k … down from the initial asking price was $1.19 million … in 2008.

3 – I don’t feel like a complete fool saying that the recovery is near. I don’t know when “near” is, but I do know that “normal” is a moving and shifting target. “New normal” is an absurd term; today is normal. So is tomorrow. So is yesterday.

4 – Product mix shift – anecdotally, we’ve seen this coming, but we’re seeing more and more buyers are opting for single family detached homes as opposed to attached homes. Condo volume seems to be stabilizing … the condo buyer of today is more interested in the condo lifestyle (location, no maintenance or yard work) than we saw in the previous market*. What we’re also seeing is a demand for the condo lifestyle in single family homes; that solution doesn’t really exist yet, but there’s a market for it!

5 – Real estate market Data is but part of the conversation and analysis – experience and conversations with other experienced real estate agents matters tremendously. It might sound silly to in-lookers, but being able to tell that a property is great and will sell soon is crucial. Example: I showed a house on Saturday and told my buyer clients that I expected it to sell in the “next couple days” … then I heard Monday that the sellers got three offers. That insight comes from experience, not just looking at data. … and educating my buyers so that they are able to discern a well-priced, well-marketed home is one of my favorite things.

6 – I’m seeing that more and more people want to be close to stuff … “stuff” meaning coffee shops, schools, work, grocery stores … and CharlAlbemarle is about to get more stuff. This trend is reflected by more of my buyer clients asking about walk- and bike-ability, as well as shorter commute times.

7 – As always, I’m reserving my conclusions about where we are today until I have at least 6 months of hindsight.

8 – Nationally, Trulia says that asking prices have increased, and their data is about as relevant as mine if you’re seeking to make a decision (and you really should hire a professional for advice) … for example, single family homes in the Waverly neighborhood are very different than single family homes in Forest Lakes are very different than walkable homes in Downtown Charlottesville.

9 – Corelogic reports that housing prices are up slightly. This could be a sign of a positive trend in house prices.

10 – As always, do your own due diligence. Get objective advice and insight. Read beyond the real estate headlines. Ask (me) questions if you have them. If you’re planning to put your house on the market in 2013, take pictures soon!

Breaking down the product mix a bit more for Charlottesville and Albemarle (Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson don’t have many attached homes or condos … except for the condos at Wintergreen in Nelson)

Sold in Albemarle:

1/1/11 – 6/30/11 – 588

Single family – 394

Attached – 191

Condos – 53

Sold in Albemarle:

1/1/12 – 6/30/12 – 654 — Up 11%

Single Family – 440 — Up 12%

Attached – 156 — Down 18%

Condos – 58 — Up 9%

Sold in Charlottesville:

1/1/11 – 6/30/11 – 212

Single family – 135

Attached – 18

Condos – 59

Sold in Charlottesville:

1/1/12 – 6/30/12 – 252 — Up 19%

Single Family – 176 — Up 30%

Attached – 17 — Down 5% (but really, down 1 unit)

Condos – 59 — Same

* I don’t know how to best define “previous market” but I know when it was and what it looked like 🙂

** And some people are in the process of kicking themselves for not buying six months ago.

Download PDFs of the respective county reports:

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Charlottesville MSA

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Charlottesville City

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Albemarle County

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Fluvanna County

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Greene County

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Louisa County

Sales and Inventory report – July 2012 – Nelson County

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1 Comment

  1. Mark August 27, 2012 at 10:12

    “[T]here is a dearth of quality inventory on the market right now.”
    In my experience this has always been the story, particularly in the City, for anyone with 2 or more children and a $325,000 budget. For 4 bedrooms you will never have more than 5 choices in the City: Two will be outdated, one will have tiny rooms, and one will have the 4th bedroom in the musty basement.


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