DC area housing market continues to lag last year's levels

Posted on September 10, 2014 by Corey Hart



Continued declines in contract activity and closed sales; No change in median sales price


Buyer activity in the Washington DC Metro area continued to be lackluster in August.  The number of closed sales decreased 9.3 percent from August 2013 and all property segments had fewer closed sales than last year.  Every jurisdiction in the region had declines in closed sales as compared to last year, which is the second time in 2014 for every jurisdiction to do so.  The largest decreases occurred in Fairfax City (-26.3 percent), Falls Church City (-25.0 percent), and Arlington County (-19.9 percent).  The number of new pending contracts also fell for all property segments and the total number declined by 6.0 percent from last August.  It should be noted, however, that both closed sales and pending sales continue to be above their 2010, 2011 and 2012 levels. The median sales price was unchanged from last August but both townhomes and condo properties had higher median sales prices than in August 2013.  The number of homes for sale continues to rise, but remains low.  Active listings reached their highest August-level in three years, but are only 43.1 percent of their peak-level.  New listings also rose from last year, marking the sixth consecutive month with year-over-year increases.

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Eighth consecutive month of year-over-year declines; decreases in all property segments.  In the Washington DC Metro Area there were 4,189 closed sales in August.  Closed sales fell by 432 sales, or 9.3 percent, from last August, which is the eighth month in a row of year-over-year declines.  However, closed sales remained higher than in August of 2010, 2011 and 2012.  All property segments had fewer closed sales than August 2013.  Sales for condo properties decreased 13.8 percent, or by 176 sales, from last year and had the sharpest decline of all property segments.  Sales for townhomes decreased 10.1 percent, or by 119 sales, while those for single-family detached homes decreased 6.5 percent, or by 140 sales.  Compared to July, the number of sales decreased 7.7 percent, which is a sharper decrease than the 10-year average July to August change of -2.9 percent. 


No change in median sales price; increases for townhomes and condo properties.  The median sales price for the region was unchanged from last August at $415,000, but the August-level median sales price has not been higher since 2007.  Of the property segments, only single-family detached homes had a lower median sales price as it fell 2.6 percent to $520,000.  At $400,000, the median sales price for townhomes increased 2.6 percent from last August.  The median sales price for condo properties increased a modest 0.4 percent from August 2013 to $300,000. 

The City of Falls Church had the highest growth in in median sale price, rising 42.2 percent. But the city had 15 sales in August, making the median sales price sensitive to changes in the type of homes sold. Two jurisdictions in the area had declines in median sales price from this time last year:  Alexandria (-6.6 percent) and Montgomery County (-0.6 percent). These areas are also the only jurisdictions with lower prices year-to-date, down 1.4 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The region’s year-to-date median sales price of $410,000 is 1.2 percent higher than the same period last year. Prince George’s County prices had another strong month in August, increasing 12.4 percent from August 2013 and the year-to-date median sales price is 15.8 percent higher than January-through-August last year. With Prince George’s County prices 46 percent lower than the region at large, its relative affordability lends itself to continued double-digit percent increases in the months ahead.


Ninth month of year-over-year declines; decreases in all property segments.  The number of new contracts signed in August was also below last year, falling by 6.0 percent, or by 274 contracts, to 4,262.  This is the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases.  But the number of contracts is above its August-levels in 2007 through 2011.  All property segments had fewer contracts than last August.  New contracts for condo properties had the steepest decline, falling 6.7 percent, or by 82 contracts.  New contracts for single-family detached homes decreased 6.1 percent, or by 129 contracts, from last August, while those for townhomes decreased 5.5 percent, or by 66 contracts.  New contracts decreased 10.7 percent from last month, which is a sharper decline than the ten-year average July to August change of -7.3 percent. 


Highest August-level inventory since 2011; sixth month of year-over-year gains for new listings. At 11,177, the number of active listings in the Washington, DC Metro Area continues to rise, increasing 34.6 percent, or by 2,876 listings, from last August.  Active listings have now increased from the prior year for 11 months in a row and have reached their highest August-level in three years.  Despite these gains, active listings remain 56.9 percent lower than their 2007 peak.  Of the property segments, active listings for townhomes had the largest increase from last year, rising 54.6 percent.  Active listings for condo properties rose 34.4 percent from last August.  There were 6,420 active listings for detached homes, 29.0 percent more than this time last year.


New listings contributed to the rising inventory, and increased 2.5 percent, or by 135 from last year to 5,446 listings.  While this is the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year gains, the rate of increase has slowed from recent months.  New listings for townhomes had the highest growth of the property segments and rose 8.7 percent, or by 112 listings from last year.  New listings of single-family detached homes increased 1.4 percent, or by 37 listings, from this time last year.  New listings for condo properties decreased 1.1 percent or by 15 listings and were the only property segment with fewer new listings than last year.  The median days-on-market is increasing, but remains low.  The median days-on-market is 22, which is eight days higher than last year and the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year increases.  Despite this increase, homes are selling more quickly than the 10-year average August-level of 32 days.


About the RBI Metro Housing Market Update

The DC Metro Area Housing Market Update provides unique insights into the state of the current housing market by measuring the number of new pending sales, trends by home characteristics, and key indicators through the most recent month compiled directly from Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data in RBI’s proprietary database. The bulk of this report’s content is readily available, down to the ZIP code level of granularity, via interactive charts and reports offered via rbiEXPERT, a premium subscription service offered to real estate professionals interested in growing their business with the help of industry-leading and user-friendly analytics. The DC Metro Area housing market includes: Washington, D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County in Maryland, and Alexandria City, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church City in Virginia. 

About RealEstate Business Intelligence, LLC

RealEstate Business Intelligence, LLC (RBI) is a primary source of real estate data, analytics and business intelligence for real estate professionals with business interests in the Mid-Atlantic region. The full monthly data report for all jurisdictions in the MRIS region, along with interactive charts and graphs, can be found at www.getsmartcharts.com/statistics. RBI is the only company in the Mid-Atlantic region that provides timely, online access to statistical information directly from the MRIS Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Visit rbintel.com or www.facebook.com/rbintel to learn more.

About the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University

The Center for Regional Analysis conducts research and analytical studies on economic, fiscal, demographic, housing, and social and policy issues related to the current and future growth of the Virginia, Maryland, and DC areas. Through its range of research and programs — major economic impact studies, economic forecasts, fiscal analyses, conferences and seminars, publications, information services, and data products — the Center’s activities strengthen decision-making by businesses, governments, and institutions throughout the Greater Washington region.  Visit http://cra.gmu.edu to learn more.

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