Home sales tick up as buyers anticipate higher interest rates, prices

Anticipation of higher interest rates and median prices lead to more home sales

Residents in the Williamsburg area might have some new neighbors after an increase in home sales to end 2016.

Lisa Noon, CEO of the Williamsburg Area Association of Realtors, said people have bought houses in stronger numbers than in 2015 because of the anticipation of higher interest rates and median sales prices.

"When you looked at how homes sales have paced not only in the area but throughout the state, we've had a tremendously busy fall going into the winter months," Noon said. "It's unusual. Usually home sales go up through the beginning of the year and gradually decline to end the year."

Compared to December 2015 in the greater Williamsburg area, five more houses were sold; single family homes were on the market for 60 days, 10 fewer days than in 2015.

Four more homes were sold each in York County and the city of Williamsburg than were sold during the same time period last year. Three fewer houses were sold in James City County.

"Typically when you put a house on the market, it's there for three to four months," Noon said. "If you're looking at less than that it indicates how the market is doing."

In James City County and the city of Williamsburg, the monthly inventory of homes for sale in December decreased while the monthly inventory in York County increased by 13 homes.

This wasn't just a local trend. According to the Virginia Association of Realtors, the housing market closed 2016 strong.

Statewide median sales price for November was $265,000, 5.2 percent higher than the median price last November. December numbers were not available. In the greater Williamsburg area, the median sales price was $320,000, a 4 percent increase from last year.

During November in the state, the sum of all transactions exceeded $34.816 billion, which was an increase of 7.9 percent from last year's total of $32.271 billion.

Noon said these figures are indicative of the market leaning toward sellers.

"It's a very strong seller's market at this time. Things always swing back and forth. It can be a buyer's market or a seller's market it just depends on what's going on and the economic trends but right now we're definitely in a seller's market," Noon said.

While the market can fluctuate anytime, Noon thinks the outlook will continue to be positive for the housing market.

"We're still seeing a strength in consumer confidence. People are starting to say 'I have to get off the fence and purchase a home,'" Noon said. "We are in the middle of January and are still hearing our members are very busy."

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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