Special to The Washington Post

It happens almost every day in Northern Virginia.  A prospective buyer calls a real estate agent with a great idea.  I’d like to make an offer on a house that I found on the Internet. Since everyone knows the real estate market is bad and sellers are desperate, let’s offer them half the asking price. I’m sure they’ll take it.

What many buyers don’t understand is that the Northern Virginia real estate market is not what you see on the nightly news.  Though there are cities throughout the United States where the foreclosure market has made it possible to buy homes at significantly discounted prices, in our area, if a home is priced right, then the sales price is likely going to be close to the price you see online.

Northern Virginia in this chart includes Arlington to Prince William County and west to Fauquier County. (Cindy Jones/ MRIS)

Obviously this is a large area. So do the numbers hold true when you look at a smaller geographic area?  Looking at the statistics for the month of December, detached homes in Arlington sold for 95.5 percent of the asking price.  Head south to Woodbridge: the percentage is 94.7 percent. In Loudoun County, it averaged 93.7 percent.

Does this mean a buyer doesn’t have any negotiating room?  No. It just means as a buyer you need to be realistic and understand that most sellers will ignore a “low-ball” offer. A buyer needs to look carefully at the asking price of the house, compare it to the other sold properties in the neighborhood and determine if the home is priced correctly. If so, make an offer reflecting the reality of our local market.

If you are interested in more information on the Northern Virginia real estate market, you might want to take a look at the monthly video updated by the Real Estate Business Intelligence part of the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, the local multiple listings service (see below). 

Remember that houses today in Northern Virginia are a better buy than they were five years ago, and interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remain historically low.  If you are thinking of buying, houses are still a good deal, even if you can’t buy one for half the list price.


Cindy Jones is a Broker with CJ Realty Group.  You can read her blog at www.varealestatetalk.com