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Ask Val: Is the Housing Market Recovering From COVID-19?

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Do you foresee the real estate market going back to normal in the summer?

Answer: We made it to June! Can you believe it?! Spring has been full of uncertainty and we’ve all been adjusting to a whole “new normal”. Honestly, it’s impossible to predict the future but I’m very optimistic that we’re going in a positive direction now that coronavirus-related restrictions are easing and the economy is reopening.

Here’s why:

  • While the number of transactions in the Tysons area is lower compared with last spring, they did not drop as much as many industry experts predicted. May has been more favorable, with increasing numbers of properties under contract and new listings, according to MLS data.
  • Normally we see sales really ramp up in March and April, but amid the pandemic and widespread job losses, many buyers wanted to wait not only until they felt more secure in their jobs but also until they could physically step into the homes they were considering. As COVID-19 cases (hopefully) drop significantly and states are loosening restrictions, buyers are becoming more comfortable with the home buying process as they’ve gotten used to taking precautions such as wearing masks and keeping social distance.
  • During these past months at home, homeowners had lots of time to figure what type of space is more valuable to them. Many people have found that they need a home with more space, while others have decided to downsize. What I’m seeing more often on my buyer clients must-have list, is a true home office and not just a desk area in the kitchen. The demand to work from home will remain strong motivating buyers to look for a separate space for that home office.
  • Although home sales have declined due to social distancing and economic unpredictability, home prices are still strong in the Northern Virginia market. In the past couple of months, most of the buyers I represented were competing for properties with multiple offers and they either offered full asking price or above.
  • Active sellers are key to a healthy market. We are seeing sellers getting their properties on the market as they are more confident with pricing than the last couple of months and they’re more comfortable as buyers and agents are taking health precautions when showing a property for sale.
  • Another driver for a stronger third quarter is Millennials with families want to settle in new homes before the school year begins. Don’t expect an increase in sales to last into the fourth quarter though.
  • The low mortgage rates, without a doubt, is helping to entice buyers back into the market.

While all these are signs of a market kicking into more of a recovery mode, there are still some challenges we’re still to overcome:

  • Sellers haven’t come back as quickly to the market as buyers.
  • Even if buyers can find a home, they may not be able to secure a loan. Mortgage rates are historic lows. But today’s reality is lenders are increasingly getting tougher on qualifying criteria.

Tysons Market Update

Here are some numbers for April and May’s real estate transactions within 5 miles from Tysons:

April

  • 235 Properties sold
  • 192 Properties went under contract
  • 26 Average days on the market

May

  • 219 Properties sold
  • 272 Properties went under contract (considering they close within 30 days, we should expect higher numbers in June)
  • 21 Average days on the market

Fairfax County in May

In the chart below you can see our current inventory is about half of what it was in June 2019. However, the number of properties under contract is pretty close which means buyers are very active in this market.

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen a quick bounce back due to record-low mortgage rates and virtual home shopping options and I’m positive that our market will remain strong throughout this year. I will keep you posted!

If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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