Shockingly low sales? Of course they are. There was an up to $8k tax credit, historically low interest rates, and FHA loans with 3.5% downpayments, and this market couldn't do any better than during the worst financial crisis since the Depression?
And yet, it's not shocking: this market defies "logic," and is a "buyer's market" only by definition of the huge amount of available inventory. The inventory of single family homes, including fantasy proposed, has hovered at 260 for the past few months. There's a lack of short-term buyers, a lack of move-up buyers, and buyers expect prices to continue declining. It's not shocking when one actually looks at the inventory, as these commenters do.
The reality on houses priced $300k and below? At the "First Time Buyer" price point, the houses often still need tens of thousands of dollars of "improvements" (kitchens, bathrooms, roofs, floors, siding), or are miniscule (the "charming Belmont bungalow" at 800 sq. ft. for $225k), or, in the under-$200k range, are in neighborhoods that never "finished" being "gentrified" during the Bubble ("euphemisms").
As for higher-priced single family home inventory in the City of Charlottesville? A buyer has to really adore an 1800 square foot house on 1/4 acre for $650k that elsewhere in the Commonwealth would be a 12 minute rail commute to DC, or south, west, and east of here would be under $200K....
We're not a bedroom community for NOVA--yet. We just have the prices. Any moment now, cash will come raining down from the sky, saving sellers. That run-up in prices wasn't a "bubble," it reflects the true "value" of this area. Sales may be slow, but they have been for years, and any moment now things will be looking up....
*PM: Title updated to reflect first 1/3 of the year. March and April contracts will close in June and July.
Nest Realty Group's post on this topic, where this CAAR chart appears (copyright/courtesy of)
Here's What's Missing From CAAR's Q1 2010 Market Report
CAAR Q1 2009 Market Report - Sales overall down 33%
Q1 2009 Single Family Home Sales in C'ville and Albemarle
2009 Contracts, January - May 2009
Graphs of 2003-3009 Sales in Cville / Albemarle