Little City real estate market in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’

One of many homes that have seen their access value skyrocket. (Photo: Sue Johnson)

If the huge jump in estimated property values ​​reported in the News-Press last week didn’t convince you, the jaw-dropping valuations from real estate agents in the key region should. Residential real estate, especially the variety of single-family homes, is exploding in value in this area right now. Calling it a “sellers market,” where sellers are likely to get more than they ask for, is too light.

In fact, in the words of one such local estate agent, it is only by combining two popular superlatives that a correct picture of the current situation emerges. It’s not just a “perfect storm” for sellers, but Falls Town Church is “the eye of the storm,” as Falls Church real estate agent Albert Bitici put it. in an interview this week.
“Eye of the Perfect Storm” probably won’t replace “The Little City” as Falls Church’s official slogan at this time, but it does reflect this moment in its history.

Bitici told News-Press that this period was “unlike anything I have ever seen” in his many years in the business.

The current period “far exceeds all recent years” in terms of boom. Along with the ‘tight inventory market’ comes an almost panicked rush to buy anything that looks good, resulting in 20-30 bids on the vast shortage of high-quality homes on the market from the city.

In fact, according to real estate agent Ken Trotter, there are currently only six single-family homes for sale in Falls Church, and only 35 in the greater Greater Falls Church area.

What used to be three to six months’ inventory of homes on the market is now down to less than a month. “It’s not just a seller’s market, it’s a historic market” that has sparked many bidding wars, he told News-Press this week.

Of course, Falls Church residential real estate has always been favored for families who need space to raise their little ones, if only for the world-class quality of the city’s independent public school system, which now offers K-12 International Baccalaureate programs.

Realtors have often commented on this over the years, that the value of a home in Falls Church enjoys an “added value” of 15% or more due to the quality of the schools.

One of the many high end properties you can find in the small town. (Photo: Sue Johnson)

But now it’s not just for that, and for the completion of a new $120 million state-of-the-art high school that was completed last year, but it’s also for the falls’ demonstrable quality of life. . Church that continues to bring remarkable new things to the city’s parks, neighborhoods and commercial areas in a way that actually results in a dramatic drop in residential real estate tax rates (promised with a new fiscal year budget this spring to offset a double-digit boom in real estate valuations).

But the other factors more unique to this period involve the impact of the two-year hiatus of the Covid-19 pandemic which, as Bitici explains, caused major lifestyle changes, many of which seem to persist. . They include the desire to avoid long commutes, if not increase the ability to work from home, and the collateral desire to have “living in spaces”, rather than viewing homes as places solely to raise children. or sleep on weekends.

In this way, Falls Church emphasizes the quality of its neighborhoods, with programs to make them more “walkable” and the inclusion of an introduction of “traffic calming” measures, and more, creates a desirable extension of the single-family home.

Then there is the other deciding factor, which is the current move towards higher interest rates which is adding tremendously to the anxiety associated with finding the right home right now.

“Rising interest rates add strong pressure to buy now from those who don’t want to miss this trend,” Bitici said.

Another prominent local real estate agent echoed the same themes. Alison Miller, told News-Press that “the inventory of homes available on the market in Northern Virginia is extremely tight right now.”

She cited the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) market statistics publication which shows that as of February 2022, Fairfax and Falls Church have only one month (or 0.3 months) of supply. homes on the market while neighboring Arlington is over three months old. (or 0.7 months). “That means,” she said, “if suddenly no more houses were on the market, all available supply would be absorbed within that time frame.”

But she stressed that “buyers should not be discouraged”, adding “it is possible to buy in this market with patience and an experienced agent”, adding that condos and townhouses are also “a little less competitive to buy than single-family homes at the moment”. .”

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