Business

Current Status Report of the Falls Church City Housing Market

By Alex Russell

According to data published by Realtor.com, there are currently 198 homes for sale in the City of Falls Church, ranging in price from $162,000 to $2.3 million. The median listing home price is $595,000; the median sold home price is $610,000, although the assessed values that are due from the City assessor’s office by the end of this month will average out considerably higher.


It is well known that in addition to businesses, popular cultural and historic destinations, and public transportation, good public schools are another big draw for potential homeowners, and this has been a premium for Falls Church, with many realtors commenting that over the years the City school system is effectively a value-added of up to 15 percent in the price of homes here, although quality of schools has remained very high for the City’s neighbors Arlington and Fairfax.


According to Realtor.com, Falls Church is home to four public schools that are rated “good and above” by GreatSchools, a nonprofit organization that assembles and organizes information regarding pre-K — 12 education, with Oak Street Elementary School garnering the highest reviews.


In terms of the buying/selling time frame, the number of days that a home spends on the market in the Little City, in median terms, is 50 days. The trend for median days on market has increased slightly since last year.


According to data published by the real estate brokerage company Redfin, the market in Falls Church is “somewhat competitive,” with some homes receiving multiple offers. Some homes may sell for approximately two percent or more above the listed price.


According to the website FederalReserve.gov, the Covid-19 pandemic, as with most facets of daily life, has greatly affected the housing market. The past two years saw a substantial decrease in the supply of homes for sale, while prices have continued to increase.


In terms of demand, the pandemic, almost universally, has forced more people to spend a larger amount of time at home, leading to an “increase in demand for housing services.”


Simultaneously, the uncertain, stressful times that came with Covid contributed to a reluctance on the part of homeowners to put their homes on the market.


The foreclosure moratorium “may also have reduced” the supply of homes on the market. The current combination of increase in demand and decrease in supply is the central facilitator of a “sellers’ market.”


According to the May 2021 Virginia Home Sales Report compiled by the Virginia Realtors Association, 14,145 home sales occurred across the state that month, which is “about 3,700 more sales than” in May of 2020.


In general, these findings describe a solid link between the machinations of the pandemic and the housing market in Virginia. According to data collected by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), some of the other factors that will continue to affect the real estate market, in addition to the economy at large and the pandemic, include the “continuing hybrid work arrangements persisting if not made permanent,” especially in relation to telework, as is the norm now with many federal offices.


“Prices for building materials will remain substantially elevated for most of” next year, as well, which will make new construction projects “very expensive, likely leading to delay in building…multifamily developments.”


According to Niche.com, an online resource guide that helps searchers find information on educational institutions, cities, neighborhoods, and various companies across the United States, a larger number of Falls Church residents own their home as opposed to those who rent: 42 percent of people in Falls Church rent, while 58 percent own.


As is common with the nature of real estate, the state of the market itself presents a part of the criteria through which a buyer surveys an area and the homes available therein.


Niche has collected varying data, including information from the U.S. Census, showing that the Little City is number 7 of 165 in “Best Suburbs for Young Professionals in Virginia”; number 17 of 281 in “Best Places to Retire in Virginia”; and is number 17 of 280 in “Places with the Best Public Schools in Virginia.”


The heading for “Crime & Safety” in Falls Church, based on “violent and property crime rates,” receives an overall grade of B- on Hinge.com, while the heading “Working in Falls Church,” which is “based on employment rates, job and business growth, and cost of living” receives an overall grade of B.


The Falls Church Real Estate Assessment Office that determines the value of all property located within the city limits at “full and fair market value,” concluded its assessments for 2021, with the total “taxable assessed value for all properties in the city” as of January 1, 2021, to be “$4.57 billion.” This marks a 2.72 percent increase in “assessed value” in the Little City.


In terms of contrasting and comparing economic changes as well as the status of the housing market in the City between 2021 and 2020, “residential new construction accounted for $17.68 million” of growth, while “commercial new construction” made up $55.0 million of growth. The “overall residential real estate values” went up by 4.07 percent, signifying a tight yet active market.


The case of Falls Church proves the point that the value of a home is more often than not greatly influenced by its location.


The City of Falls Church, being an independent municipality part of the greater Washington, D.C. metro area, is situated between two of the wealthiest counties in Virginia: Fairfax and Arlington.


The influx of business, whether through the development of private companies and businesses (the recent boom in the tech and software industries has made a noticeable impact on Washington, D.C.) as well as the presence of the federal government (meaning employment opportunities as well as cultural and historical destinations in and around the city) ensures consistent demand for homes not necessarily in the capital itself, but somewhere in the vast peripheral zone that includes cities such as Manassas, Woodbridge, and Falls Church.


Easy access to public transportation is also a big draw for home buyers, especially since the Metrorail, which connects and serves 91 stations throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the D.C. area, extends directly to the Little City.