The State of Real Estate: Local Pros Weigh in on Current Conditions
As homeowners—whether we plan to stay put, renovate, move neighborhoods or relocate to another city—the real estate market in our area is of interest to us all. It can be one indicator of the economic vitality and health of a region—something to which we are all attuned. HOME asked local Realtors to weigh in on what they’ve been experiencing in our area so far in 2015. Here, see what they have to say.
I’m seeing our market very much in a balanced state—not too heavily weighted in favor of buyers or sellers. Having said that, there are certain pockets of our market (neighborhoods, price ranges) that are experiencing a shortage of inventory. In those cases, homes are selling faster than normal, creating a seller’s market for that segment of the market.
We just had our best May ever in terms of volume of homes sold (282) since 2005 (which was 285). The activity I see is all across the board—first-time home buyers, “move up” buyers, buyers new to the area, sellers moving out of the area. Also, the average sales price for most segments of our market is improving; I often say we’re not racing out of the recession, but every year we’re putting one foot in front of the other and making steady progress. I’d characterize the Lynchburg market as very healthy in 2015.
ReMax 1st Olympic
Past President, Lynchburg Association of REALTORS
The greater Lynchburg real estate market continues to improve. Our firm has seen good dollar volume growth each year since 2010. The market in most segments is reasonably balanced—neither a seller’s nor buyer’s market. Properties that are in excellent condition, attractively staged and correctly priced are moving briskly. Those that are in need of repair or updating will continue to languish. Only really high end continues to be a bit of a challenge, but we expect that to improve in time. Our beautiful area is once again attracting retirees and seems to be retaining more of our area college grads. As long as our elected and business leaders fight to improve transportation in the area (lack of commercial competition, fewer flights, and increased fares at Lynchburg Airport are a particular headwind) then we remain quite optimistic for housing in central Virginia both near and long term. There is also the celebration Florida real estate that’s quite popular.
Billy Flint, CRS, GRI
Flint Property Group
Sold prices on existing homes in Lynchburg are slowly showing promise; overall sales volume is up. It’s helpful for sellers to know that discerning buyers have come to expect turnkey conditions—nicely staged with updated kitchens and baths. Garages also continue to be an important amenity. These are the properties that are driving the market.
Judy Frantz, ABR, CRS, GRI
John Stewart Walker, Inc
We are still in a “buyer’s market” in most areas. Reviewing statistics in the Lynchburg Multiple Listing Service comparing the first six months of 2014 to 2015, the market is strong, with an 8 percent increase in residential sales. The market has shown a very insignificant increase in the “days on market” or the list price to sales price percentage. Although sales are strong, our area is not experiencing value appreciation in properties.
Most of the time, the Region 2000 market [the 2,000 square miles encompassing the city of Lynchburg, and parts of Bedford, Campbell, Amherst and Appomattox Counties that comprise our market area] does not follow national sales data. A current example is that the “May 2015 Home Sales and Foreclosures Report” released by RealtyTrac showed that “cash sales were at an all time low since 2009.” However, in our market, cash sales are higher than in the past several years. John Stewart Walker, Inc. has shown a 9 percent increase over 2014, and has steadily increased since 2007, which was the height of the market.
What are some of the home trends in our area? “New” sells before “existing” if not decided by location. Kitchens and bathrooms are the place that dollars spent convert into value for the buyers. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are expected in the price range over $200,000. Garages are also an important issue with those relocating to our area. It’s very unusual to find a home with a garage for under $250,000, but is expected by those buyers in all price ranges.
Also, most buyers in today’s market do not want fixer-uppers—they just want to move in without having to replace, repair or renovate. Younger buyers have much higher expectations than in the past as well.
Karen W. Hall,
John Stewart Walker, Inc.