Figures from the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS), the largest real estate listing service in the country, show average house prices in Loudoun County rose by 6.7 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year.

The survey shows the average price of a local house in 2017 was $508,571 compared to $491,540 in 2016, with a 12.3 percent price appreciation in the area over the last five years.

The figures show that the Loudoun County real estate market saw more than 5,000 sales in 2017. Loudoun's sales were more than double than the total for Winchester and Frederick County, where total sales were 1,745. Clarke County had just 210 sales in 2017.

Judging by the analysis, the county outperformed national expectations. Realtor.com predicted house prices would rise by 3.9 percent nationwide year-over-year in 2017.

Mike Cooper, principal broker for the Cornerstone Business Group Inc. -- which includes Winchester, VA Real Estate -- said the market is very healthy in Loudoun County.

"It's a little more insulated from market drawbacks, mainly because of its proximity to D.C.," Cooper said.

The MRIS data shows the number of days properties stayed on the market (DOMP) has been steady over the last few years. The 2013 DOMP was 38 days, the same number as in 2017. In 2015 the number was 58. The number of "distressed property sales" -- the term to describe short sales and foreclosures -- dropped from 322 in 2016 to 245 in 2017. In 2013, 598 properties came under this category.

Cooper predicts an upbeat 2018, except when it comes to market inventory. As of Jan. 1, 545 available homes were on the market in Loudoun County.

"Inventory is a problem," Cooper said. "Low housing inventory creates a circular dilemma. Sellers who want to sell may stay put because there is no place for them to move to. Buyers can't buy houses that are not on the market, and sellers can't sell if there is nowhere for them to go. It's a vicious circle," he added.

According to Zillow, the online real estate and rental marketplace, the picture was not quite as buoyant for Loudoun County as the one published by MRIS. The median home value in 2017 as assessed by Zillow, which uses different algorithms, was almost $474,000, a rise of 2 percent over the last year, with Zillow predicting a further rise of 1.2 percent in 2018.

According to the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR), Loudoun County's median home sale price reached $456,900 in November, an increase of 6.5 percent on an annualized basis and the highest November median sales value in over a decade.

DAAR also noted a decline in active inventory for the 29th consecutive month. At the end of November, inventory was 12.8 percent lower than the same point last year.

According to Holly Weatherwax, president of DAAR, there doesn't seem to be a clear reason why this is the case.

"Low inventory continues to drive down the number of sales and drive up prices. The spring market is generally the most popular time to list homes, so we hope to see more homes come on the market as we move into February," Weatherwax said.

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