Western Albemarle First Quarter Real Estate Report: Crozet Real Estate Market Is Still Solid


By David Ferrall

Q1 Sales Graph, courtesy Nest Realty
Q1 Sales Graph, courtesy Nest Realty

Well, it sure seemed busy! The first quarter of 2016 started with warm weather and high hopes for a strong early spring real estate market. 2015 was a banner year for new construction and total sales, and interest rates remained low as the new year began. Open houses were busy, and agents reported high buyer interest and insufficient inventory. There was even a bubble of buyers from out west relocating for local gridiron reasons. Yet when the dust settled on March 31, sales were a couple short compared to the same period last year.

There were 44 total sales in the first quarter, down two sales from the same time last year. This is at odds with the rest of Albemarle County, where sales were up 15 percent in the quarter (see chart provided courtesy of Nest Realty). Of these Crozet sales, 36 were for detached properties, and 8 were for attached homes. There was one sale over $1m; 1041 Half Mile Branch Road, just west of town, sold for $1.06m. It will be removed for statistical purposes from this wrap-up. Eleven sales were for properties on an acre or more, which typically are in outlying areas. This is a fairly consistent figure, as 75-80 percent of all sales occur either in/around downtown or in one of Crozet’s subdivisions. There were two land sales in the quarter, down 60 percent from the five that sold at the same time last year.

There were 35 sales of detached properties in Crozet in the quarter. The average price of these homes rose an eye-popping 18 percent to $470,000, at a cost of $170 per finished square foot. Thirteen of these homes were new construction, the same number as last year. The average size of these new construction homes rose to 3,265 sqft, compared with 3,100 sqft last year. This 5 percent increase in size partially offsets the 18 percent average price increase to $614,000 this year, but not totally. New construction costs are going up, and buyers are opting for more features.

There were only eight attached properties sold in the quarter, all but one being resales in Highlands, Old Trail, and Wickham Pond. The lone new construction sale was the last townhouse in Haden Place. Since most of the sales were resales, prices were down significantly to an average of $245,000. Going forward, there are only new construction town and villa-style attached homes in Old Trail. Hopefully new subdivisions in the pipeline will offer more attached options, as these are typically more affordable than detached homes.

Sadly, distressed sales continue to plague the area. There were three reported distressed sales in the quarter, the same as last year. These sales (lender-owned properties and foreclosures) remain a sad byproduct of the Great Recession of 2009-2010. But according to CoreLogic’s last Equity Report, 91.5 percent of all homes in the U.S. now have positive equity.

If you have driven down Crozet Avenue over the past few days you have no doubt noticed the land clearing going on across from The Meadows. This new neighborhood, tagged Chesterfield Landing, promises new, detached homes on yards around a half acre in size. This is currently the only new neighborhood likely to have sales this year. Prices will start in the mid $400,000s.

Looking ahead, the real estate market in Crozet should remain solid, limited only by inventory shortcomings. This forecast is echoed by Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com, who believes “low inventory and tight credit will limit the gains we will see in 2016.” Freddie Mac concurs, stating “challenges remain, with low housing supply and declining affordability being a key concern in many markets.” The Crozet real estate market is facing low inventory and declining affordability, but historically low interest rates and increasing rental costs should help keep Crozet property transactions firm this year.


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