Virginia's housing market more resilient than rest of nation

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Virginia's housing market has demonstrated greater resiliency than many housing markets across the country even though home sales have slowed across much of the state as a result of COVID-19.

The number of home sales in Virginia was down 7% last April compared to April 2019, according to Virginia Realtors, a trade association based in Glen Allen. Nationwide, they dropped 17%, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The number of pending sales in Virginia in April was down 28% compared to a year ago. By comparison, NAR has reported pending sales down 34% nationally.

The ability of Virginia's housing market to weather the COVID-19 pandemic better than other localities can be attributed to several key factors, according to Virginia Realtors, such as:

* While the governor's stay-at-home order this spring limited business activity, the real estate industry was not shut down like it was in some other places.

* Virginia's economy and housing market were very strong going into the pandemic, and there as high demand for housing. Even in midst of economic uncertainty, home prices have risen more than 5% in Virginia since last year, illustrating the high demand.

* While hundreds of thousands of Virginians have been impacted by job loss, the Commonwealth's key economic sectors — including the federal government and professional and technical services sectors — have been relatively insulated from the downturn, which has allowed buyers to continue with home purchases.

The ability of Realtors to adapt to new business practices to protect the health of themselves and their clients has also made a tremendous impact.

"Virginia Realtors have practiced responsible social distancing and pivoted to make extensive use of virtual tools to continue to transact business. This adaptability has been key to keeping Virginia's housing market going," Virginia Realtors Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant said in a news release.

With the Commonwealth moving into Phase 1 of reopening and Gov. Ralph Northam's stay-at-home directive scheduled to expire on June 10, Virginia Realtors expects there will be a spike in buyer activity in June before a more gradual return to a more typical market — albeit one that will include social distancing and virtual tools — over the next few months.

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