Strong market, robust evictions defined housing in Henrico last year
Last summer, Realtor Shakeema Daniels of ICON Realty, helped a client through the difficult housing market. Only after six offers on various homes – and missing out on the chance to make offers on five others – was the buyer able to make a successful offer.
“[The home] wasn’t even move-in ready,” said Daniels. “That buyer did a lot of work before even moving in. But it just goes to show what kind of market we’re in for buyers.”
Last year was a seller’s market in Henrico County and throughout the area. So far, this year is more of the same.
Daniels advises buyers to ignore the HGTV image of an ideal house and be prepared for the cost and effort to secure a home in the competitive climate. Her client went to work to spruce up his new home in Eastern Henrico – slapping on a new coat of paint, replacing carpet, changing out the fixtures and the appliances after the purchase because he really just wanted to get the house under $225,000.
“In the past we’d had clients who, when houses come on the market, maybe you have one or two other offers, but now we’re looking at upwards of 20 to 30 other offers on a house,” said Daniels. “So not only is it more competitive, and interest rates are a lot lower than they were in 2015, but also you have way less inventory.”
As part of the Key Team at ICON Realty in Rocketts Landing, Daniels and her colleague Dakia Knight hone in on data to understand the market and to create a comparative market analysis every time a client is interested in making an offer, to ensure the listing price is in-line with the data in the area.
“Cash is king when it comes to winning those bids as we see the supply decrease,” said Knight. “In 2020, there was an average of 397 active listings on MLS [Multiple Listing Service] versus 600 in 2019. That’s how little inventory we have.”
Data shows that median sale prices in Henrico increased almost 13 percent to $298,959 and average sale prices increased 8 percent to $352,950.
“When you think about a pandemic, when you think about. . . civic unrest or a reckoning, and then when you throw in a bitterly divisive presidential election – all of that, and you still have a very healthy real estate market overall,” reflected Laura Lafayette, the CEO of the Richmond Association of Realtors. “And in metro Richmond, we will have experienced the best housing market since 2005.”
In a time when staying home and staying put because of the dangers of COVID-19 many of Daniels’ clients have been motivated by the pandemic’s stresses and changes to their lifestyle, like the couple that must separate because they cannot bear to be confined together any more and the family bursting out of a small apartment in need of a house with an office and separate quiet spaces for children to do their schoolwork at home.
She also worked with Washington D.C. residents who ditched small apartments for more room in Henrico when remote work became the norm for the long term allowing flexibility with their location.
Henrico offers many positive attributes
“The county government is well-managed,” said Lafayette, who is a Henrico resident. “I feel like I have access to excellent schools for my children. There are excellent amenities in Henrico, you have easy ingress and egress to get to other jurisdictions, to get onto the interstate, to get to anything you might want or need. And so I think that [our] high quality of life [is a draw].”
Data from the Richmond Association of Realtors Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service from 2020 shows there were 4,751 single family and condominiums/town homes sold in the county last year through November – a 27% increase from 2019 (19% among single-family homes and 32% among condos and townhomes).
The most dramatic statistical change showed what a sellers’ market the region is. The number of days that homes stayed on the market dropped from an average of 31 in 2019 to 17 in 2020.
“Everything is snatched up,” summarized Knight.
The low inventory in 2020 clearly did not mean slower sales.
“Surprisingly, 2020 was our strongest year in sales since 2016,” said Daniels. “Resale is so competitive and low in inventory that new construction was more attractive.”
But Lafayette said construction slowed in 2020 as the result of COVID-19.
Lafayette, Daniels and Knight are well aware of the parallel story alongside the healthy real estate market of high unemployment leading to people losing their housing.