County home prices keep rising even as sales cool

Sellers continue to get stratospheric offers from prospective purchasers, even as the number of consummated transactions continues to take a hit in Arlington’s real-estate market, according to new data.

A total of 236 properties went to closing countywide in August, down 21 percent from 299 a year before, according to figures from MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS.

That’s seemingly yet another sign that (a) the local real-estate market is cooling and (b) it is returning to seasonal ebbs and flows that see activity concentrated in a stretch from early spring to mid-summer, followed by six months of cooling , if not necessarily frigid, market conditions.

The big sales decline for August was in line with expectations, given the accumulating evidence that the buyer frenzy existing from the summer of 2020 to early spring of 2022 has abated. Sellers largely remain in command of the market, but buyers suddenly find themselves with less competition and more time to make their choices despite a still-tight inventory.

But those buyers had better come prepared with a serious offer, as year-over-year average sales prices remain in solid growth territory.

That’s particularly true in the single-family sector, where the average sales price of $1,284,914 in August was up 12.2 percent from a year before.

The average sales price of an attached home (townhouses, rowhouses and condominiums) was up 2.4 percent to $524,774, while the condo-only portion of that market was up 6.9 percent to $460,185.

Overall, the average sales price of $769,565 was up 3.9 percent, but that growth rate was held back by fewer single-family homes in the overall mix.
A total of 58 properties changed hands for more than $1 million during the month, including four for more than $2.5 million.

Mix the lower level of transactions together with the higher prices and you come up with a sales volume of just under $183 million for the month, down about 17.4 percent from $221.5 million a year before.

Homes that went to closing in August spent an average of 23 days between listing and ratified sales contract, up just a single day from a year before but higher than the Arlington market saw earlier in the year. The average sales price stood at 97.7 percent of listing price, down from 99 percent a year ago and signifying that buyers have gained some negotiating leverage.

Conventional mortgages represented the method of transacting sales in 152 sales, followed by cash (57) and VA-backed mortgages (20).

Those ever-higher prices are being propped up by a decided dearth of inventory. At the end of the month, the total number of active listings across Arlington stood at 373, well down from 490 a year before. The number of new listings coming to market during the month (234) was down nearly 30 percent, suggesting some sellers have decided to await developments before committing their homes to the marketplace.

Where is the market headed? In Arlington, expect a cool autumn, as pending sales are down about 24 percent from a year ago. That likely will translate into fewer completed deals in the remaining months of 2022.

Figures represent most, but not all, home sales in the market. All August 2022 figures are preliminary and are subject to revision.

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