Falls Church Market Stats Q1 2013

Sales Market Summary: The market for January-March 2013 continued–no surprise–what we’ve seen the past few quarters, that Falls Church inventory remains tight. If anything, it got even tighter compared to the later part of 2012. There were 34 sales (10 condos, 10 THs, 14 detached) which is a sizeable decrease (47%) from the previous quarter of 50 sales (21 condos, 4 THs, 25 detached) but essentially the same as Q1 2012 (32 sales: 14 condos, 2 THs, 16 detached). For most of the past quarter, the total number of all active listings on any given day was around 20 with most coming on in March. The later part of this quarter and for early April shows that quite a few listings are getting multiple offers. There is a definite buzz in the air which is a good thing. But let’s hope things don’t go overboard. No one wants to relive 2008-2011 thank you very much.

Distressed Sales: There were 3 foreclosures (no Short Sales) this past quarter; one condo in Falls Chase and 2 detached houses (Greenway Downs & Sherwood). While distressed sales are never good, there’s no evidence they have affected our market the past few years. There were 7 distressed sale sales in 2012 (2 foreclosures, 5 Short Sales). Interestingly none of them had their 2013 tax assessments lowered. In fact, most stayed the same–a few even went up. The City Assessor seems to have ignored these sales when determining 2013 assessments. Why?

The reason is that a distressed sale is not considered an “Arms-Length Transaction” which is typically defined as a transaction between 2 independent parties on equal footing. (Note: We think by law local jurisdictions are not allowed to consider them). Distressed sales are not independent nor equal because a bank directs how the sale is conducted and picks the final sales price. This seems like a “legalese” way of ignoring these sales to avoid lowering assessments–something no jurisdiction wants to do. While distressed sales are (thankfully) the exception in Falls Church City, ignoring them seems unfair. It’s not like they never happened. If it was fair, then why does a non-distressed sale that sells above market conditions often has its assessment go up the next year. For example, we found quite a few deals in 2012 where the sales price was quite a bit higher than the TA. And in each of these cases, the assessments for 2013 were higher. Conversely, there were 9 sales last year in The Byron Condominium–3 of which were Short Sales. They sold for at or below their 2012 TAs. Yet none of them had their assessments lowered. In fact 2013 assessments for units in The Byron stayed the same. So essentially the City ignored 1/3 of sales.

This was not the case for the 2 foreclosures–both sold 5% above their 2012 assessments. For 2013, one had its assessment go up, the other stayed the same.

Note: We did not look at every single sale for 2012 to see how TAs were affected. However in general jurisdictions will raise the assessment if the property sells for a more than list price and the current TA. Maybe this could be a topic for a future story :-)

NOTE: Below #s are averaged (unless otherwise noted)

Condos:
*10 Sold
*Days on Market: 28, much faster than all of 2012
*Sold Price: $389,580, 5% above 2012 Tax Assessed Value (TAV)
*Seller Subsidy: 20% had Seller Subsidy ($3492), a sign sellers are more in control
*Price Difference: $8,195 (between List and Sold)
*1 Short Sale (Falls Chase)

Townhouses:
*10 Sold
*Days on Market: 24; essentially the same # as for 2012. It would have been much lower save for one poorly priced listing.
*Sold Price: $719,612, 5% above TAV
*Seller Subsidy: 30% had a seller subsidy; $1625…..quite higher than 2012
*Price Difference: $858 (between List and Sold price)….barely worth mentioning

Detached:
*14 Sold
*Days on Market: 28-69; which is very high due to 4 very poorly priced properties that took 249, 217, 196, & 103 days to sell. Excluding them, the average DOM was 28.
*Sold Price: $721,043, 7% above TAV; quite a bit lower than 2012
*Seller Subsidy: 43% had SS; $3,211
*Price Difference: $5,789 (List vs. Sold price); which is quite low

Note: We used 2012 TAs for the above numbers given most of the sales occurred before 2013 assessments were posted on the City’s web site. 2013 TAs will be used for the rest of this year.

Here’s the link to the City Real Estate Assessment page.
http://property.fallschurchva.gov/ParcelViewer/default.aspx

Rental Market Summary: Our apologies for sounding repetitive here but very little change as the rental market remains tight. For January to March there were……

*18 rentals (9 condos, 2 TH, 7 detached) 7 more than Q4 2012
*Days on Market: 31 condo; 17 TH, 29 detached; faster than Q4 2012
*Price Ranges: Condo: $1150-3400/month; TH: 2995-4000/month; Detached: $2100-3700/month

As of early April , there were 16 Active rentals (11 condos; 1 TH, 4 detached). As usual, there are several condos in Roosevelt Towers that are essentially permanent rentals, i.e. they’ve been in MLS for years. So taking them out, you’re left with 11 rental listings–a small number indeed.

NOTE: Not all rentals are in MLS. Some are done privately or on-line (Craig’s List, Military by Owner, etc.). So the numbers here don’t show everything. However we’re confident they capture the overall trend.