Job growth is up and so are home sales in and around Bristol, Virginia, according to a report from the Bristol Tennessee-Virginia Association of Realtors.

The home sales report for the first quarter of 2019 focuses on the Bristol region, which the association defines as Bristol, Virginia, and Lee, Scott and Wise counties, and shows a number of positive indicators for the region’s economy and housing market.

Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist of Virginia REALTORS, said she likes to think that the two elements go hand in hand: A strong economy yields a strong housing market and vice versa.

Unemployment for the region, which is about 4%, has been falling steadily since 2013, when it was nearly 9%. Additionally, job growth from September 2017 to September 2018 outpaced job losses significantly, with a net gain of about 1,373, according to the report. The biggest gains were in administration, support and waste management at 1,087 and professional, scientific and tech services at 515.

Home sales also increased in Bristol, Virginia. During the first quarter, there were 12 homes sold versus six during the same period in 2018.

The Bristol region is in a strong sellers’ market, meaning there is a high demand for houses, with limited inventory. Sturtevant said this means homeowners can sell at premium prices, and most homes are not on the market for too long due to competition between buyers. From first quarter 2018 to first quarter 2019, the median sale price of homes was $141,000, and the average time homes were on the market was 204 days.

It wouldn’t hurt to have more homes on the market, Sturtevant added.

“More supply and more transactions would be a little healthier,” she said.

In late 2018, some experts predicted the housing market in Southwest Virginia and beyond would begin to slow by spring. Sturtevant said this primarily has to do with mortgage interest rates, which were expected to rise above 5% in early 2019.

Michael Pruitt, president-elect of Bristol Tennessee-Virginia Association of REALTORS, added that he expected buyer fatigue — the point where potential homebuyers who have repeatedly put offers on homes without success stop searching for a while — would have started to set in on a larger scale.

Pruitt said he expects the housing market will remain a sellers’ market until early fall, when home sales are likely to slow, either from buyer fatigue, increased mortgage interest rates or both.

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276-645-2412 | lgreiss@bristolnews.com | Twitter: @Leif_Greiss

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