Sales and home prices continued to climb “at steady rates” in the Richmond area during the first three months of 2018, continuing a trend that has lasted for six years, according to a report by the Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service.
In all, 3,083 homes were sold in the Richmond region during the first quarter of 2018, up 2 percent from the same period last year, according to the report released Tuesday.
The median price in the Richmond area, with half the houses selling for more and half for less, rose 6 percent to $244,195 in the first quarter.
In central Virginia, which is made up of 16 localities, including Richmond and the three surrounding counties, there were 3,813 houses sold in the first quarter, up 4 percent from the same time last year.
Home sales were up in 13 of the 16 jurisdictions tracked in the report, down in two localities and flat in one jurisdiction.
Chesterfield — with 1,191 houses sold in the quarter — had the most sales in the region but it was flat from the same period a year ago.
Henrico County had 913 sales in the quarter, down 2 percent from a year ago or down by 15 sales.
Home sales in Hanover County rose 13 percent while sales in the city of Richmond increased 5 percent.
Homes also are selling faster than a year ago, which the report says is an indication of both strong demand and a shrinking inventory of active listings. There were 3,153 homes listed for sale at the end of the first quarter, 16 percent fewer than the same time last year, or a drop of nearly 600 listings in the region.
“The historically low inventory that continues to drop has been a decade in length,” said Laura Lafayette, chief executive officer of the Richmond Association of Realtors. “That is pretty significant.”
“We continue to see low inventory,” she said. “We continue to see modest growth in terms of activity and strong price appreciation but the market isn’t overheated, generally speaking. There are geographic pockets where the competition feels fierce because the inventory is so low. People interpret that as being overheated. I would suggest the market is not overheated but rather there is a scarcity of inventory.”
Homes on average are selling 7 days faster in central Virginia compared to the first quarter of 2017.
The strong demand in the housing market and historically low inventory of homes available is putting upward pressure on home prices in the region.
For the first time in nearly four years, pending sales in central Virginia declined in the first quarter, but the decline was “modest,” according to the report.
The 16 jurisdictions of central Virginia had 5,136 pending sales in the first quarter, 2 percent fewer than the same time last year. The Richmond area also had fewer pending sales, down 5 percent from a year ago to 4,176.
Lafayette said it is too early to read too much into that slight decline, and suggested the weather might have been a factor. “We will see what the trend looks like once we conclude the second quarter,” she said. “All the anecdotal evidence I am hearing is that April is very strong.”