Survey: Cold wind is blowing through Va. homes-sales market

The bulls of winter and spring have been supplanted by the bears of summer, as Realtors across Virginia turn downbeat on the coming months in the commonwealth’s home-sales market.

Only 11 percent of respondents believed market activity would be strong three months into the future, according to the monthly “flash survey” of members of the trade organization Virginia Realtors.

The survey, conducted July 27-31, was reported Aug. 5, and represents the responses of 842 members, including 716 who participated in at least one homes transaction over the preceding 30 years.

In the new report, the Buyer Activity Index dropped from 48 in June to 43 on a 0-to-100 scale, the lowest since the reading debuted a year before and well down from more than 80 reported in the springtime.

Only 19 percent of respondents reported buyer interest as “high” or “very high” in their localities, down from 26 percent a month before.

Of owners whose homes sold in July, the average number of offers received was 1.8, down from 3.1 in June and emblematic of a market that has cooled owing to higher interest rates, affordability issues and general concerns about the direction of the economy.

(One silver lining for sellers: nearly half – 48% – of them whose homes sold in June received more than listing price. But even that number was lower than in recent months, and may have come about because sellers are becoming attuned to changes in the market.)

Confidence among survey respondents in where the market will be in three months’ time ticked up slightly in July but remains low. The score of 41 on a 0-to-100 scale is up from 39 in June, but had been 83 in January.

Only 11 percent of respondents said they believed buyer activity would be strong three months into the future, and only 18 percent believe prices will continue to rise.

In perhaps the biggest reversal of recent months, 53 percent of respondents said they expected prices to decline over the coming quarter, up from a mere 10 percent who held the same view in January.

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