Virginia – Signs of Housing Recovery in The Old Dominion
Low mortgage rates were a driving force in Virginia's 2012 housing market. With average rates at 3.2% in late 2012, those rates propelled both home sales and median home prices. From November 2011 through November 2012, home sales increased 18% across the Old Dominion. And if that wasn't enough to cheer about, consider that in the same period median home prices rose 12%!
The total number of home sales in Northern Virginia in 2012 represented the best year-over-year improvement since 2001. They also outpaced 2011’s tally by 11%.
No doubt part of the reason for Virginia's success is its consistently-low unemployment rate. From an all-time high of 7.3% in January 2010, Virginia's rate has consistently dropped to its current rate of 5.6%. At that level, Virginia represents the lowest unemployment rate of any state in the Southeast and ranks 11th in terms of employment opportunity among the 50 states. Leaders attribute Virginia's commitment to bringing new business to the state as one reason for the Old Dominion's gains.
Northern Virginia is not alone in realizing steady gains. In the Richmond area, total home sales in 2012 beat out 2011’s by 16%. Home prices increased by 8%.
In central Virginia, Albemarle County experienced a 4% rise in home prices. In the Charlottesville area, overall home sales in late 2012 were up over 22% the same period in 2011. The average home price rose 6.8 %. Likewise, there is good news for distressed sales (or, those identified as foreclosures or short sales). By the end of 2012, distressed properties had dropped from 7.9% to 6.3% of the market. A very positive sign, indeed!
Realtors in Virginia expect 2013 to continue the upward trend. And with home prices sure to rise in 2013, sellers will be more likely to put their homes on the market. So, will the supply catch up with demand for homes for sale in Virginia? Perhaps. But with home builders' confidence at the highest level since 2007, realtors in Virginia insist that new home construction will also rise in 2013.
Speaking of new construction, Virginia can expect to benefit from commercial real estate ventures in 2013. A national developer recently announced plans to construct a 15-story office building in Richmond. Representing an investment of over $100 million, the project is certain to produce thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue. In Northern Virginia, previously-stalled projects in Merrifield, Springfield, and Tysons Corners appear to be back on track.
Virginia's re-emergence rests in part from the state's commitment to build an economy that continues to encourage business and job creation, and which embraces "bold and innovative ideas". All signs indicate that things are looking up in the Old Dominion!