Arlington sellers are playing the Amazon game, and might miss out

The toughest housing markets for potential homebuyers in the Washington, D.C. area remain Arlington County and Alexandria, and it is not getting any better.

The number of houses and condos for sale in Arlington County, Virginia, in July was down 57% from a year ago, and active inventory in Alexandria was down 56%, despite sky-high prices for what is selling.

Some potential sellers are still waiting for the Amazon HQ2 effect to fully kick in.

“Some sellers are thinking ‘gosh, why don’t I just wait until Amazon gets into full bloom before I sell my house, because maybe values will go up even higher,'” Christine Richardson, president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, told WTOP.

“But I’m not sure that is necessarily the right way to think about it, because often that initial exuberance is actually higher than reality turns out to be.”

Another risk to sellers’ upper hand when it comes to lack of inventory could be new construction, and several developers are already planning housing projects specifically aimed at addressing Amazon HQ2 employee housing needs.

“If we end up putting in new inventory such as new construction, that will change the whole supply and demand, and that potentially will affect property values for sellers,” Richardson said.

But by all measures, both Alexandria and Arlington will be a sellers’ market for the foreseeable future, but that is not a reason for sellers to get lazy or greedy.

“Sellers need to know the house still has to be priced right. This is still not the kind of market where you can put any price on it and everybody will pay it. People have to be careful and price right. And it is always a good idea to stage your house and get it to be looking its very best.”

Home sales in Arlington County last month were down almost 10% from a year ago, and down 17% from a year ago in Alexandria.

The average price of what sold in Alexandria last month was $579,400. The average price of a sale in Arlington County was $684,900, a July record.

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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