Winchester-Frederick County, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Update – 2018
The Winchester-Frederick County, VA 1st quarter real estate market had a good first quarter. The first three months of the year tend to be a slower home sale period, but the local market increased sales by 13% over the 2017 first quarter. That’s a great jump year to year. The change is more of a sign of stability than the previous five first quarters.
Winchester-Frederick County, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Update – Five year change.
A slow steady change is more indicative of a healthier market. Large swings may show volatility in the market. At the 10 year anniversary of the Great Recession, home sales are in a similar place as they were at that time. That’s no reason to panic in the current market. The major changes since the pre-recession relate to loan qualification and regulation. The subprime and low-document loans are no longer prominent today.
Buyers are being qualified based on verifiable data, and the changes in loan regulations have lenders crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s before a loan is approved. Fewer real estate agents are willing to jump into a car to show property to buyers who have not been pre-qualified for a loan. Those changes alone have added to market stability.
The Winchester-Frederick County, VA 1st quarter real estate market has seen real changes since the dog-days of the recession. The improvement in the volume of home sales is up 53% since 2013. The years between 2011-2015 had periods where the market was brutal. Though there were periods with positive signs, the market did not offer confidence that the worst was behind. Even as late as 2013, the market was still tenuous. Home sales dropped 7% in the first quarters year to year between 2013-2014.
The 2014-2015 market increase in the first quarter was a 17% improvement. The next two years 2015-2016 saw 0% growth in the first quarter. Finally, the 2016-2017 market saw a 24% increase and 2017-2018 increased 13%. Nationwide, the increases have been 3-6%. That puts the Winchester-Frederick County real estate market in a better place than many other communities throughout the country.
Winchester-Frederick County, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Update – Inventory Issues Continue
Low inventory has plagued much of the country throughout the past nine months. Winchester-Frederick County is no different. The current number of existing homes available is 267. That’s an improvement from February and March, but is woefully low considering the buyer pool.
Sellers do have an advantage in the current market, but the current conditions are giving buyers heartburn. It is common for properties to hit the market followed by multiple offers with lower numbers of contingencies. Buyers are avoiding home inspections, paying more than list and shortening their closing times to gain an advantage.
That works well for sellers, but buyers may be buying homes that have issues that will be expensive to repair once they take possession. By paying more than list, buyers are having to bring more money to the table than they expected. The market inventory problems do create a certain amount of uncertainty for buyers.
Winchester-Frederick County, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Update – Distressed properties
Another area that is stabilizing is distressed properties. Distressed properties are made up of short sales and foreclosures. The numbers have hovered around 6% year to year, and the first quarter was in the range at 7.4%. There were 23 foreclosures in the first quarter and 3 short sales. They were 7.1% in the 2017 first quarter. That’s consistent since the market has taken a turn toward stability.
The market has been a roller coaster since 2008, but there has been a consistent fight to get back to stability since 2011 and beyond. For those watching closely, it has looked like a street brawl, but the causal observer probably hasn’t noticed the extreme swings. Having looked at every month, quarter and year since the recession, I can see a steady return to a healthy market. It is a welcome sight.