By David Ferrall
The third quarter of 2015 was a banner period for real estate sales in Crozet. Sales were up 20 percent, but prices and costs were flat. That welcome combination wasn’t matched this year. For the third quarter of 2016, total sales in Crozet were down 13 percent, yet the median price for a property in Crozet rose 9 percent to $424,000, and the cost per finished square foot of space rose 4 percent. This sales decline was in contrast to Albemarle County as a whole, where sales rose 2 percent (see attached sales chart provided courtesy of Nest Realty).
The median sales price in the county rose 6 percent to $343,000. Much of the price increase in Crozet can be attributed to dropping inventory, and the resulting average days-on-market falling 40 percent from 52 days last year in the third quarter to only 31 days in 2016. The fact that homes for sale in the past quarter spent on average three weeks less time on the market before selling is a boon to sellers, but continuing inventory scarcity could frustrate buyers.
There were 75 total sales in Crozet in the third quarter of this year, with only one property at 1440 Plains Drive selling for more than $1m (it will be excluded for statistical purposes). The average price of all new homes in Crozet rose 13.5 percent to $444,000. Sixty-one of the sales were detached properties, 13 were townhomes. There were four land sales in the quarter, down from seven last year. And there were only two distressed sales, thankfully down from three in 2015. We hope to see this number go to zero in coming quarters.
Of the 61 detached homes sales, 12 were for properties on an acre or more, which tend to be in outlying areas. These sales represent 16 percent of the total number of sales for the quarter, which is slightly lower than the usual norm of about 20 percent of all detached sales. Twenty-two of the sales were for new construction, down from 26 sales at the same time last year. Thirteen of this year’s new construction sales were in Old Trail. Westlake had three sales, then a couple each in Haden, Wickham, and Foothills. The price average price of these new homes topped $600,000 for the first time, up 6 percent from the same time last year. The average size was up 5 percent to 3,298 finished square feet, and cost rose as well to $188 per sqft. In contrast, the 39 re-sale detached properties sold at an average of $401,000, with a cost of $152 per sqft. The average price across all detached home sales in Crozet was $473,000, up 12 percent from the same time last year.
There were only 13 sales of attached homes in the quarter, down 35 percent from the same time last year. All of this year’s sales were in Old Trail. Four of the sales in the quarter were for new construction, down from six last year. Prices continue to rise, though, with the average townhome property coming in at $305,000, up 9 percent from the third quarter last year. Average and median prices for new construction were both in the $430,000 range. Crozet could benefit from some more affordable options for new townhouse properties.
Year-to-date there have been 216 sales in Crozet, down from 221 through the first three quarters in 2015. Total new construction sales are down to 62 from 75. There have already been three sales this month, and there are currently 56 pending transactions, many of which could close in the quarter. Time will tell if sales will top the 289 total sales of 2015!
Typically this time of year our thoughts are turning towards the holidays. But this isn’t a typical year as we are constantly reminded by the daily barrage of election coverage. Regardless of the vote outcome in November, the local real estate market promises to remain robust. The main drivers are low inventory, active buyers, and phenomenal interest rates. In fact, Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey states that rates have remained below 3.5 percent over the last 16 weeks, which mark an historic low. This low is appealing to buyers as it increases their purchasing power. While there remains anxiousness that rates may increase, most experts don’t expect them to exceed 4 percent through 2017. So it remains a great time to buy and sell in Crozet, which should continue in coming quarters.