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HOUSING » KEY DRIVER OF LOCAL ECONOMY
Local housing numbers


Date published: 7/14/2012

BY BILL FREEHLING

The Fredericksburg-area housing market had its best month of the year so far in April, according to data recently released by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

Housing is a key driver of the local economy. A prolonged slump over the past several years has pushed many home builders, suppliers and contractors out of business. Many people have decided to rent rather than own their homes, which has led to gains for area apartment developments.

The market typically improves in the spring and into the summer, and the April data showed several signs of an improving climate for housing sales locally.

The median sales price in the region, $220,000, was up 17.7 percent from April 2011 and was at its highest monthly level since August 2010. Prices are still well below levels from several years ago, however.

There were 357 homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service in April in the Fredericksburg region--the city and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. That was up 2.3 percent year over year.

As of the end of April there was just a 3.9-month supply of homes actively listed in the market based on that month's sales volume. That is lower than what is considered an optimal balance between supply and demand, a statistic that bodes well for future prices as well as demand for new homes.

Indeed, homes sold for only about a 5 percent discount from list price on average, the smallest discount since July 2006.

There was also evidence in the data that banks are starting to loosen up on lending. Conventional bank financing was used in about 29 percent of April's home sales, the most since December 2009. Government-backed loans still made up more than half the total.

Homes spent about 82 days on the market before selling in April, down 17 percent year-over-year.

Many national builders, perhaps sensing the improvement, have been buying home lots in the Fredericksburg area of late and drawing up plans for future subdivisions.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com


Median Sales Prices*

Apr. '12

Mar. '12

Apr. '11

Fredericksburg

$230,000

$170,000

$205,000

Stafford

$248,450

$245,000

$224,950

Spotsylvania

$195,000

$175,000

$169,250

Caroline

$142,500

$149,500

$106,100

King George

$259,000

$222,450

$220,000

Orange

$165,000

$163,000

$159,000

Fauquier

$275,000

$280,500

$259,900

Culpeper

$209,750

$198,956

$190,000

Fredericksburg area**

$220,000

$195,000

$187,000

* Median is the middle price. For example, if 11 homes were sold, the median would be the price of the sixth-most expensive home (the middle one). We use this figure because extremely expensive or inexpensive homes can skew averages. The average sales price tends to be higher than the median. For example, the Fredericksburg-area average sales price for April was $241,887.

** This area-wide median home sales price includes all of Fredericksburg and Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George counties.

--Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.