Nearly 100 homes were sold in January, which appears to be a record by a wide margin, according to Bob Hill, the CEO of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors.

The 97 homes sold in January represented a 32% increase from January 2019’s 65 homes sold, according to local real estate data provided by Hill. The highest sales number other than this January was in 2017, when 69 homes sold in the city and county that month.

January 2020’s figure is more than three times as large as the 33 homes sold in January 2001. According to that same data, the median sales price of a home sold in the city and county jumped about $96,000 over the same period of time.

Even during the last big housing climb, between 2002 and 2005, according to Hill, the highest number of homes sold in January only reached 56 by the first month of 2007. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of homes sold in January dropped from 53 to 39, after the Great Recession. From there, it has been gradually climbing.

However, Hill said it is only one month of data so it is too early to call it a trend.

Hill said the large number of sales are from pent-up demand being met by homeowners increasingly deciding to sell their homes to move into larger properties or other areas.

“This may be that breaking of the logjam that people go ahead and say ‘It’s time and if the market is going up, I’m going to jump in now,’” he said.

Home sales tend to slow during winter months and pick up as the temperature rises, Hill said, and he did not think that trend would significantly change.

Jeremy Litwiller, the president of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors, agreed about pent-up demand playing a role in the month’s sales.

He said despite the national and local housing shortage, low interest rates, the strong economy and consumer optimism continue to contribute to the demand. Incomplete data from February showed another strong month, he said.

Litwiller said he had concerns about the sustainability of the sales as supply continues to decline.

“How many of those months can we string together with the inventory levels going in the exact opposite direction?” he said.

“Unless something breaks loose and something changes, the inventory levels cannot support, in my opinion, those kinds of numbers,” Litwiller said. “I wish they could.”

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or Follow Ian on Twitter @iamIanMunro

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