The Hampton Roads region’s residential real estate market continues to defy national happenings, and in a good way.
But will a shrinking inventory eventually impact the ongoing trend?
According to a recent report by the Real Estate Information Network, national sales inventories are on the rise, sales are down, and median sales prices are leveling off.
Here in Hampton Roads the real estate market is just the opposite.
For the month of August the inventory of residential homes for sale is down nearly 8 percent from the same time last year, and for the 37th straight month.
Last month there were 10,020 active residential listings across Hampton Roads, compared to 10,851 at the same time last year.
But the region’s real estate market is a “different animal” than much of the rest of the nation, said Karlene Cupp, a Realtor with Beach South Realty.
“This is because of our huge military and government presence. We have multiple Navy and Army bases, Coast Guard bases, Air Force installations, a NATO outpost, and a major shipyard,” Cupp said. “When the rest of the country is hurting, we have a steady stream of income from Uncle Sam.”
Cupp said she doesn’t see the August numbers as evidence of a bellwether shift. Instead, she sees it as part of the cycle that was experienced each year: Sales climb through the spring and summer and then drop again in the fall, which coincides with families with young children trying to move during the summer to avoid disrupting their child’s school year.
Each of the region’s seven major cities has seen a decline in inventory, with Portsmouth down the most, by 16.86 percent.
Along with the continued decline in residential inventory, the REIN report cites “softer” increases in August.
Although “residential pending sales” have risen year-over-year for 51 consecutive months, August saw a “moderate” increase of 3.59-percent.
Four of the region’s cities experienced year-over-year increases, with Norfolk undergoing the most dramatic upswing at 22.73 percent. Newport News (-12.99 percent), Chesapeake (-12.15 percent) and Hampton (-3.13 percent) each experienced year-over-year declines.
The region’s residential settled sales experienced modest year-over-year growth last month, up 1.85 percent, with Virginia Beach seeing the highest year-over-year increase at 15.8 percent. Four cities (Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, and Norfolk) saw year-over-year declines in settled sales.
However, despite that decline Norfolk experienced the largest increase in median sales price, rising by 14.07 percent over last year. Chesapeake had the highest median sales price at $280,500.
The Norfolk figure is a huge increase, Cupp said, and it’s worth noting that it’s due entirely to price.
“The number of units sold in Norfolk is actually less than last year,” she said. “I think the answer is that we’re still experiencing the continued effects of the big real estate crash in 2007-2008. Following the unprecedented wave of foreclosures and short sales, investors entered Norfolk’s neighborhoods and started a renovation blitz in 2009, 2010, and 2011.”
Cupp said the high median prices in Chesapeake are likely because of the fact that more new homes are sold in that city than are in other cities in the region.