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Ask Eli: Reviewing Arlington’s housing inventory mix

This regularly scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Ask Eli, Live With Jean playlist. Enjoy!

Question: Can you summarize the type of housing inventory one can expect to find in Arlington?

Answer: One of the most beneficial things you can do when starting your home search is to understand if the type of property you want exists in the market you’re looking and, if so, how likely it is you’ll find it. The best way to do that is looking at sales over the past year or so to identify how many properties have the specifications you want, and what type of budget it’ll take to secure it.

For example, if you have your heart set on a lot with at least ½ acre in Arlington, you should know going into your search that just 1% of single-family homes that sold last year sat on ½ acre or more, so you need both patience and a substantial budget.

Condos Nearly Half of All Sales

Properties in multi-family buildings represented nearly half of all sales in Arlington last year, followed by single-family homes, and then townhouse/duplex properties. I broke down the data a bit further by bedroom count and pulled out some interesting details about each property type:

  • 5% of condos sold had one or two bedrooms, 4% had three bedrooms (none had more than three)
  • 84% of single-family homes had 3-5 bedrooms, 29% with 3 BR, 34% with 4 BR, and 22% with 5 BR
  • The median price for a home with at least four bedrooms and at least three full bathrooms in North Arlington was $1,455,000 and $1,030,000 in South Arlington
  • 40% of townhouse/duplex properties had just two bedrooms and only 14% had four or more bedrooms

Arlington by Decades

Arlington’s single-family home problem is very much a decade problem. 66% of single-family homes last year were built prior to 1960 (mostly small and expensive to expand) and 14% were built since 2010 (large and expensive). Only 7% of homes sold last year were built from 1970-1999.

Why is this relevant? Because those decades (70s-90s) offer a middle-ground for many buyers — floor plans and square footage that meet the functional priorities of many of today’s buyers but old enough to sell at a steep discount from newer homes. So, we are faced with single-family inventory in Arlington that is either too small or too expensive for many buyers (this is not a comment on Arlington’s Missing Middle Study!).

The age of Arlington’s condo and townhouse/duplex properties is much more evenly distributed by decade, which is generally a good thing for a marketplace.

If You’re Looking for Square Footage…

I broke down last year’s sales by finished square footage (includes finished basements) and the results are in line with what one would expect from an urban/suburban community adjacent to a major city. 87% of properties sold last year had less than 3,000 finished square feet and just 4% had more than 5,000 finished square feet.

If You’re Looking for a Big Yard…

What constitutes a big yard is subjective, but by most standards, Arlington has small yards that lack privacy. For reference, ¼ acre is just under 11,000 SqFt. 86% of single-family homes sold last year had lots with less than 12,000 SqFt and 58% has lots with less than 8,000 SqFt.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Ask Eli, Live With Jean playlist.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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