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Ask McEnearney: When is the best time to put my home on the market?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: When is the best time to put my home on the market?

Answer: Many sellers I have spoken with lately are worried that they may have missed the best time to sell their home, with the recent increase in interest rates. However, according to the latest data, in our area we’re still in a modest sellers’ market for most property types. It’s definitely cooled off a little, but the market is still busy, and we expect early spring to be even busier.

Our company, McEnearney Associates, does a great job of tracking the market on a weekly basis, looking at over 9 jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. We are fortunate to have such localized and specific data at our fingertips, to guide both sellers and buyers on the state of the market. Our team closely looks at “Absorption Rates” — which are measurements of how quickly homes sell within a certain time frame.

To arrive at the absorption rate for a specific market, the number of homes that have recently sold is divided by the number of currently available homes. Absorption rates over 60% are considered an extreme sellers’ market, and we saw this in some areas of Northern Virginia in 2021.

In Alexandria, the absorption rate for “attached homes” — such as the many historic townhomes we have — has hovered around 55% for the last couple of years. The rate in September of 2022 for Northern Virginia homes was at 44%, so it has slipped. It’s still considered a sellers’ market, just not an extreme sellers’ market.

Although the market has cooled compared to this time last year, there were some significant anomalies influencing the market in the past couple of years. While the stats from September 2022 may seem to be in stark contrast from September 2021, it’s not significantly different from September 2019, before the pandemic and before interest rates dropped below 3%.

To quote McEnearney’s recent Market-in-a-Minute report: “Unit sales and contract activity in August 2022 were only slightly lower than August 2019, there were 500 fewer homes on the market, seller concessions were lower, and the urgency index was higher. Perhaps most importantly, the 1.4 months overall supply of homes was actually a little lower than August 2019’s 1.5 months. The real estate market in Northern Virginia is no longer overheated, but it most certainly isn’t crashing either. It’s normal.”

As we get into fall, McEnearney has compared current absorption rates to those of September 2019, before the post-COVD boom hit the market. Overall, the most recent rates were on par with those of three years ago. Of the 27 categories, 14 are better than September 2019 and 13 were lower.

According to David Howell, McEnearney’s Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, what this means for sellers is that “buyers have more choices than they have had in the last couple of years and they are going to be flexing muscles they haven’t used in a while. Reasonable prices will reap benefits for sellers — list prices that are too high won’t. And the lower the absorption rate, the more careful sellers need to be about pricing.”

So, yes — it’s still a great time to sell a home! You just need to present the home in the best way possible, and be very careful about pricing it right. That’s where we come in!

If you need help preparing your home for sale and determining the best price, we are here for you. And if you’d like to see the most recent full regional report on absorption rates by McEnearney Associates, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to share and discuss how it applies to your potential home sale

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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