Western Albemarle First Quarter Real Estate Report
The 2019 real estate market in Crozet (defined as properties in the Brownsville and Crozet elementary school districts) started slowly, as first quarter sales lagged those seen in 2018. But as the year progressed, sales only got stronger. Mortgage interest rates dropped more than 15% during the year, and the U.S. stock market posted returns of around 25%. These and other continued strong economic conditions led to the highest number of real estate sales ever seen in Crozet, besting the previous high mark set in 2017. Total sales rose 12% in 2019 to 319 transactions. Look for strength in the Crozet market to continue through 2020 as low interest rates, continued demand, and new affordable offerings continue to support and advance the market.
The 319 total sales in Crozet last year were up from 284 in 2018 (9 of the 2019 sales were for $1m and over; these are excluded here for statistical purposes). The average price for a home in Crozet in 2019 across all categories was $473,000, up 2.3% year to year. There were 121 new construction sales during the year, up a healthy 29% from the 94 sold in 2018. The average price of these new construction homes remained the same at $580,000. The average resale home sold for $404,000, up only slightly year to year. The average days on market for these resales was unchanged at 51 days. For the first time in over a decade, there were zero distressed sales, a trend we all hope continues. There were 14 land sales in 2019, down 36% from the 22 sales in 2018. This reflects declining inventory in the area. Land is just getting harder to find.
The 12% increase in Crozet property sales in 2019 far exceeded the 2.4% increase experienced by the county as a whole (see sales comparison chart provided courtesy of Nest Realty). At present there appear to be no headwinds slowing this advance.
Of the 217 detached home sales in 2019, 78 were new construction. The average price of these new homes rose 3% to $642,000, but the cost of construction actually dropped 7% to $190sqft. Westlake was the sales leading neighborhood with 24 sales, Sparrow Hill had 17 and there were 15 in Old Trail. There were 139 resale properties over the year, selling for an average of $434,000 in an average of 48 days. This price is down slightly from the average price of $439,000 in 2018, though these homes took an average of 54 days to sell. Thirty-three of the total yearly resale homes were on an acre or more, properties that tend to be in areas around Crozet.
Attached townhome and villa-style home sales were up 13% with a total of 93 sales. Of these, 43 were for new construction properties, with Glenbrook out-performing Old Trail with 23 sales. Twenty transactions closed in Old Trail. The average cost of construction for these new properties rose 10% to $204 per sqft, perhaps reflecting more sales of villa and smaller townhouse units. Both of these are more expensive to construct than an average sized townhouse. The average new construction price was relatively stable at $468,000, though the average size of these homes dropped 13% to 2313sqft.
This year will see a growing inventory of rental properties in Crozet. The Vue on Blue Ridge Avenue looks to be nearing completion, as are some of the apartment units in Old Trail. How this newly created rental inventory affects property sales remains to be seen. Pleasant Green is also under construction, and sales have started in this 268-unit townhome/villa/condo neighborhood at the end of Blue Ridge Avenue. It is awesome for those seeking to buy or to rent to see an inventory increase in these types of traditionally more affordable housing options.
At present there appear to be very few obstructions in the local real estate market. Mortgage interest rates look to remain steady through the year, though somewhat unbelievably NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts possible movement lower, stating “A rate cut of 25 basis points in early 2020 is the likely scenario.” Unemployment remains at record low levels, while Wall Street records a record high seemingly weekly. Times are good for many. But 2020 is an election year, and a contentious one at that. The election will almost certainly cause some social and economic palpitations, but whether any of these distractions can slow our local real estate market will remain to be seen.