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Homes in Hampton Roads selling much more quickly

Updated: November 21, 2013 - 2:36 pm

Posted: November 21, 2013

By Bill Cresenzo
bill.cresenzo@insidebiz.com

In September, homes in Hampton Roads sold at an almost 20 percent faster rate than in the same period last year, figures show.

According to Zillow, the real estate tracking service, the typical Hampton Roads home sold in September 2013 spent a median of 95 days on the market, down from 118 days in September 2012.

Virginia Beach leads the pack when it comes to getting a “for sale” sign changed to “sold.” Homes on the market spent a median of 90 days unsold.

In Chesapeake that number was 91 and in Newport News, 120. Zillow did not provide numbers for other Hampton Roads cities, but another real estate company, Long and Foster, said a Norfolk home spent an average of 92 days on the market in October, compared to 113 days in October 2012.

During March 2010, in the midst of the recession, the average home in Hampton Roads spent a median of 154 days on the market.

That’s good news for sellers, but not so good news for buyers, said Pat Steele, president of the Hampton Roads Realtors Association.

“We have less inventory,” she said. “We are so under-inventoried – that’s the key. Most of the buyers out there have less to choose from.”

The data shows that what was once a buyer’s market is now swinging back to one that belongs to the seller, and reflects the optimism that economist and former president of Old Dominion University James Koch expressed in his annual State of the Region report, released last
month.

“After a very difficult half-decade characterized by falling sales and prices, a surge in foreclosures, and many underwater homeowners, it is now fair to say that residential housing markets in Hampton Roads are on the mend,” the  report said. “While some significant economic challenges remain, both sales and prices are up, foreclosures are down and the proportion for underwater homeowners who owe more on their home than it is worth has declined.”

The report said the area is on track for a 5.5-percent increase in home prices in 2013. The median price of a home in Hampton Roads in 2012 was $185,000, compared to an all-time high of $223,000 in 2007.

Steele said she and other real estate agents are seeing an uptick in two segments – first-time homebuyers and seniors.

“The seniors went on hold about three years ago, when they saw their equity eroding from a home they might have been in since they were first married, and their friends were moving into senior living,” she said. “Now, their equity has increased from three years ago. A lot of them are making lifestyle moves now. They don’t want to wait to see what happens. They are making their moves now.”