Loudoun’s real estate market saw big gains in 2015

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From the Loudoun Times-Mirror  This is what we experienced this year, and are looking forward to a great 2016!  

This year Loudoun’s real estate market showed some of the highest growth its seen since before the housing crash in 2005.

The 2015 Loudoun real estate market saw steady gains over 2014 numbers in contract activity, closed sales and total dollar volume. Homes under $600,000 went quickly and the higher priced homes stayed on the market for longer. New townhomes and condos in Leesburg and Ashburn remained popular options.

The year started out with an influx of inventory, creating a buyer’s market, according to quarterly reports from the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR.) Mid-price range homes valued around $400,000 and $500,000 went quickly.

Inventory flattened out by the second quarter and houses stayed on the market for shorter periods of time. The total dollar volume made in the second quarter was a staggering $967 million, topping 2014’s dollar volume by $146 million. It is the highest dollar volume made in Loudoun’s real estate market since 2005.

The third quarter also outpaced 2014 sales by double digits. While there were less new listings this quarter than there were during the same time period in 2014, contract activity still was higher than last year’s.

Fourth quarter and December numbers aren’t available yet, but according to DAAR, the market slowed down in October and picked back up in November. There was a 16 percent spike in contract activity compared to 2014, despite a slight dip in new listings.

Lars Henriksen, chair of the DAAR Board of Directors and real estate agent at Century 21 Redwood Realty, said that Loudoun’s reputation as a great place to live helps sales.

“Loudoun County remains one of the premier areas in the United States to live,” he said. “Our overall quality of life is hard to find anywhere else in the country.”

The local economy and job opportunities also draw more people to Loudoun, he added.

“Locally, our economy has maintained relative strength compared to the rest of the country,” he said. “[We have] low unemployment, high per capita income, a large percent of the population has college and graduate degrees and we are close to employment centers like Herndon, Reston, Tyson’s, Arlington and D.C.”

He also attributes historically low interest rates, proximity to Dulles Airport, the new Metro coming to Ashburn, retirees coming to the county and new construction to the market’s gains.

Rocky Westfall, real estate agent at Atoka properties and a DAAR director, said that 2015 built off of the growth of 2014.

“New contraction really got its sea legs back and I believe activity breeds activity,” he said.

Westfall said that the biggest indicator of 2015’s recovery is the amount of new construction.

“The builders are back and buyers are buying,” he said.

Builders are catering to the needs of new buyers, added Westfall.

“Buyers are thinking smaller, more quality, main level master bedrooms and one level living,” he said. “Younger buyers still like condos because they are on the lower end of price range and offer nice amenities.”

Westfall said that there is a need for more single-family homes with yards in the $350,000 and $400,000 range.

“Most of that housing stock is older and needs work,” he said.

Both Westfall and Henriksen agree that the market will remain steady in 2016.

“I expect more buyers jumping off the fence as interest rates rise, more families moving to Leesburg and Ashburn and inventory will remain stable,” Westfall said.

Henriksen said he expects to see interest rates creep up a little in 2016, because of expected future actions by the federal government.

“But, I do not see this hurting sales much. It may actually help get people off the fence,” he said. “I think we will see a continuation of all of the same factors that made 2015 a good year. The more buyers and sellers that have positive and successful transactions, the more they tell everyone and it builds upon itself.”