Home sales started recovery in 2009, CAAR says

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The year-end market report by the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors (CAAR) shows that in 2009, the local real estate market faltered badly in the first two quarters before beginning to improve at year’s end. Compared with 2008, home sales were down 8.7 percent overall. But that number doesn’t seem so dire considering sales were down 28 percent at the year’s midpoint, and that in the fourth quarter of 2009, sales were up 34.1 percent compared with that period a year ago.

CAAR acknowledges that much of this sales activity was driven by the bottom of the market—folks buying less expensive houses, many of them earning an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers. The median home price for the entire area (which includes Charlottesville, Albemarle, five other counties and the Central Valley) was down from $266,180 in 2008 to $245,357 in 2009. The current median is even lower than it was in 2005 ($256,741).

In Albemarle, the current median is $285,000 (down from $320,000) and in Charlottesville, it’s $246,750 (down from $265,509).

Inventory is still, according to CAAR, a bit higher than it should be at 2,877 homes on the market, but has declined from 2008 levels. And houses aren’t staying on the market quite as long, either.

So, here’s the short version: Buyers are still in charge, but the market is slowly regaining its balance.

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