sun-gazette-logoDouble-digit increases in home sales were reported in every corridor across the commonwealth, according to figures reported Oct. 22 by the Virginia Association of Realtors (VAR). The market has been improving since bottoming out in mid-2011.

“We have remained steady in our recovery, and hope to continue on this trajectory for the rest of the year,” VAR president Mary Dykstra said, even as she acknowledged that consumer confidence, shaken by the recent federal-government shutdown, could have a lingering negative effect.

That was a theme echoed by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, which analyzes the sales data.

The government shutdown and continued sequester “may be reflected in the house market,” the analysts said. “We will likely continue to see year-over-year improvement, but those improvements may be small, since the Virginia market is heavily influenced by government spending.”

A total of 28,271 properties went to closing across the Old Dominion during the third quarter of 2013, up from 24,911 during the same period in 2012. Year-over-year sales were up 18.9 percent in July, 10.8 percent in August and 10.5 percent in September.

The quarterly increase was relatively evenly spread among the seven geographic areas of the commonwealth used in the VAR report: Sales rose 11.6 percent to 12,698 in Northern Virginia; rose 14.4 percent to 6,468 in Hampton Roads; rose 15.8 percent to 4,451 in Central Virginia; rose 17.8 percent to 2,230 in Roanoke/Lynchburg/Blacksburg; rose 14.5 percent to 1,636 in the Central Valley; rose 10.9 percent to 426 in Southside Virginia; and rose 13 percent to 356 in Southwest Virginia.

The median sales price of all residential properties that went to closing in the third quarter stood at $254,000, up 2.4 percent from a year before although (as is sometimes the case) lower than the median $260,000 recorded during the second quarter of 2013, when the market was at its annual peak.

Median sales prices were up in six of seven geographic areas: Up 6.5 percent to $375,000 in Northern Virginia, up 2.4 percent to $214,500 in Hampton Roads, up 7 percent to $214,000 in the Central Valley, up 9.1 percent to $205,000 in Central Virginia, up 3.9 percent to $161,000 in Roanoke/Lynchburg/Blacksburg and up 2.1 percent to $114,350 in Southwest Virginia. The median price in Southside Virginia was flat at $80,000.

A total of 521 homes sold for more than $1 million across the commonwealth during the quarter.

The larger number of sales and higher sales prices pushed total sales volume for the quarter to $9.12 billion, up 19 percent from $7.68 billion a year before.

Homes that sold during the third quarter spent an average of 71 days on the market between listing and ratified sales contract, unchanged from the second quarter and down from an average 84 days a year before. As is reasonably normal, average days on the market rose in September as the market cooled from its summer burst.

After bottoming out at 3.36 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, interest rates have been on the rise. In the most recent quarter, the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.44 percent, according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.5 percent. The rates, while likely to continue to rise, remain “historically low,” VAR officials said.

Sales and price data represent transactions of most, but not all, homes on the market. Figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision.

For complete data, see the Web site at www.varealtor.com.