January 15, 2013
Central Virginia home buyers were busy in 2012. The number of home sales in Greater Charlottesville was up nearly 15 percent, making it the biggest year-over-year increase since 2004, according to a year-end report by the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors.
There were 2,643 homes sold in the area in 2012. CAAR president Denise Ramey says the positive trend was likely driven by a rise in prices.
"The fact that buyers were starting to see prices increase pushed some people off the fence that may have been thinking, 'Gosh we're not at the bottom yet. I'll wait until we're there,'" Ramey said.
The median home sale price in 2012 was $249,750, up about two percent from 2011. Albemarle County saw the greatest increase at 4.8%. The only area to see a dip in price was Fluvanna County, which also saw the biggest boost in sales.
"I think people are finding great value in the Fluvanna market based on the fact that the sale prices were much lower than they had been in the past," Ramey said. "[There were] definitely great values in some of the outlining counties."
Fluvanna County may have been a sweet spot in 2012, but Ramey says Charlottesville and Albemarle County are the biggest drivers of the market.
By year end, inventory was at the lowest level since 2005. Ramey says that means the market is moving in a positive direction.
"We like to see six months worth of inventory on the market at any given time, which indicates that we're in a healthy buyer and seller market," she said. "We're moving closer to that."
But before responding to those 'for sale' signs, Ramey says people looking to purchase their first home need to factor in all the potential costs.
"There are a lot of costs as a first-time buyer that you may not anticipate," she said. "Everything from a home inspection to paying an attorney to your down payment cost."