UVa Professor: Housing Market on the Mend

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March 14, 2012

After years of hearing about the housing market crisis and all of the homes in foreclosure, a University of Virginia professor is painting a more optimistic picture of the area's housing market.

Housing expert William Lucy says there is good news about the housing market. "Standard sales that are not pressured by foreclosure have basically stabilized," he said. "Looking ahead, the prospect is that housing prices for some period will be relativity stable or increase very slightly."

Lucy says foreclosure sales, also referred to as distressed sales, going down, coupled with standard sales increasing, should give people more confidence to enter the market. It should also give buyers and sellers more options.

Jim Duncan with Nest Realty agrees, saying he has seen the same trend locally. "A lot of the standard sales are seeing some real price stability, that's coming into play across the market."

Another trend that Lucy is tracking is the move buyers are making toward a particular location. "Part of it is the demographic, that is expressed both here and nationally, changes are quite huge," he said.

For example, in 2002, locally there was very little difference in sales price per square foot depending on the geography. The highest priced county, Albemarle County, compared to the cheapest county, Fluvanna County, only had a $28 square foot difference.

However, a decade later, there is a $67 dollar difference between the high, Charlottesville, and the low, Louisa County. Charlottesville averaged $167 per square foot, while Louisa County averaged $100 per square foot. "People have changed their ideas about where they want to live," said Lucy.

Duncan agrees, saying location was less important in the previous market. "People really want to be close to the stuff that matters to them," he said. "Whether it is work or play, they want to be within a reasonable distance."

There are a number of other factors that Lucy examines when making these projections. He also studies the demographics of buyers and sellers, which impacts the market. Lucy says he expects the trend to be that there are more developments and condominiums in Charlottesville for the next five years.

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