Amazon’s HQ2 isn’t the only reason sellers are holding out

According to the National Association of Realtors, people are now living in their homes for an average of nine to 10 years, compared to five or six years previously. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

It’s shaping up to be a particularly strong fall for the Northern Virginia housing market, based on September performance.

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors said homes stayed on the market an average of 31 days before going under contract in September, compared to 55 days a year ago.

The number of homes sold was up almost 11%, and the average home sale price rose almost 5% to $600,400.

The NVAA’s members include real estate agents in Fairfax and Arlington counties, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Vienna, Herndon and Clifton.

The Northern Virginia region continues to face a lack of homes for sale. As a region, inventory is down 37% from a year ago. In Alexandria and Arlington, near the new Amazon headquarters, the number of homes for sale is down more than 50% from last fall.

Part of the inventory problem stems from homeowners putting off sales, hoping to reap higher prices when Amazon’s headquarters starts significantly staffing up, driving more demand. But that’s not the only reason.

“There are lots of reasons for tight inventory, including that people are staying in their homes longer,” said Christine Richardson, president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

“According to the National Association of Realtors, people are living in their homes for an average of nine to 10 years now, while it used to be more like five to six years,” she said.

Despite tight inventory, pending sales in September, or contracts signed to buy a home, were up for the second month in a row — a better gauge of the current pace of sales than the number of sales that closed.

Even with strong sales throughout Northern Virginia and rising prices, real estate agents still warn against seller greed.

Ann Yanagihara, a broker at Coldwell Banker’s Vienna, Virginia, office cautioned that the market is still sensitive to price and showing condition. “Listings go stale very quickly if you miss the mark in the beginning,” she said.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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