Dearth of inventory still the big issue in N.Va. real estate

How to define the Northern Virginia real estate market in three words? How about: “We need inventory!”

That was the plea of Lorraine Arora, managing broker of Weichert, Realtors in Fairfax and chair-elect of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, as she dissected the latest round of springtime sales data.

Arora was not alone. “Our month’s supply of homes, our inventory, continues to be leaner than we prefer for a totally balanced market,” added Ryan Conrad, CEO of the local trade organization.

Indeed: The 4,299 active listings reported at the end of May were down 16 percent from the 5,122 properties available for perusal a year before, according to data reported June 12 by RealEstate Business Intelligence, an arm of the local multiple-listing service.

Figures represent the market comprised by Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cites of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.

The constrained inventory, and the prospect of rising interest rates, may be lighting a fire underneath springtime buyers. Across Northern Virginia, a total of 2,526 homes sold in May 2017, up 9.3 percent from a year before.

The average days on the market for homes that went to closing in May stood at 32, an improvement from the 38 days required a year before. And the median sales price of all categories of homes – single-family, attached and condominium – was up 5 percent to $530,000 in May

“Every single month so far in 2017, our region’s total sales numbers have exceeded the year before,” Conrad said. “National Association of Realtors’ surveys concluded that the single-family homes market had a strong 2017 outlook, and our region is proving that true.”

“Our spring market has been strong, which means ‘competitive’ for buyers,” said Northern Virginia Association of Realtors chairman Bob Adamson. “We are seeing multiple offers for our best properties.”

The inventory crunch may be eased a bit by a crop of homes that came onto the market in May, boosting inventory by nearly 11 percent, Adamson said.

But buyers remain on the prowl and ready to pounce: The 2,770 new pending home sales in Northern Virginia in May mark an increase of about 8 percent from a year before.

Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision.