DC Metro market scores strongest pending sales since July 2005

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Corey Hart



Closed sales and new pending sales up 10% versus last April; Half of April homes sold were on market two weeks or less

Rockville, MD – (May 11, 2015) – The following analysis of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area housing market has been prepared by Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. of RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI) and is based on April 2015 MRIS housing data.


The Washington DC Metro housing market enjoyed a strong April, with solid year-over-year increases in sales, and continued increasing levels of new contracts, and rising inventories.  Closed sales and new contracts both increased by 9.9% from April 2014.  All market segments experienced increases in both closed sales and new contracts.  The number of closed sales increased to 4,268, with single-family detached making the strongest showing, rising by 11.5% to 1,937 units.  The number of new contracts increased to 6,203 with townhomes increasing by the largest percentage of 13.5% to a total of 1,649.  Overall median sales prices rose by 1.1%, with the median price for single-family detached rising 1% to $417,000 townhomes and condos rising to $405,000 and $305,000 respectively.

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Compared to April 2014, inventories increased by 22.5% to 10,867 total active listings, with the number of condos increasing by the largest percentage at 26.5%, townhome listings increasing by 24% and single-family detached listings increasing by 20.1%.  New listings increased by 18.6% to 8,713 and median days-on-market (DOM) rose by 8% to 14 days.

The increase in new pending sales is the highest number of pending sales since July 2005, nearly 10 years ago. Additionally, completed sales are at their best April level in five years, which suggests that buyers are returning to the market.  Separately, inventories are also rising, are at their highest April level in in four years, and have been consistently rising for well over a year.  That said, because of the level of sales activity, median days-on-market, at just 14 days, remains at a remarkably low level. 


Year-over-year sales show strong growth, with total sales comfortably exceeding the 5-year and 10-year average.  April 2015 showed a moderate 9.9% year-over-year increase in the number of closed sales, less than the 15.6% seen in March, but still far outpacing the year-over-year growth seen in January and February 2015.  There were a total of 4,268 sales, making it the best April since 2010 and exceeding April 2014 sales by 385 units.  This is the first time since October of 2013 that all market segments experienced year-over-year growth for two months in a row. 

Single-family detached sales continued to lead all property segments in growth and increased 11.5% or 200 units compared to April 2014.  Townhome sales increased by 10.1% or 104 units, and condo sales increased by 7.3% or 81 units compared to last April.   Compared to the prior month of March 2015, overall sales are up by 606 units or 16.6%, with single-family detached experiencing a 15.5% increase and townhomes and condos both showing 17% increases. 


Highest number of pending sales since peak of the housing boom in July 2005.  The number of new contracts increased 9.9% from April of 2014 to a total of 6,203.  New contracts have now risen year-over-year for six consecutive months, and for the last three months all market segments demonstrated year-over-year increases.  April contracts exceeded both the 5-year average of 5,770 and the 10-year average of 5,329.  Townhomes showed the largest increase at 13.5% or 196 units, followed by single-family detached with an 11.8% increase, or 320 units, and condos with a 3% increase or 44 units.  The month-over-month overall increase in new contracts of 11.7% or 649 units was composed of a 16.1% increase in the number of single-family detached units and a 15.6% increase in the number of townhomes, while condos showed a modest 0.5% increase compared to last month.


Highest April prices since 2007, though year-over-year price gains slowing.  Total sales volume in the DC Metro area in April was more than $2.1 billion, with a median sales price of $417,000, the highest overall April level since 2007.  This was a $4,500 or 1.1% increase over April 2014, and a $17,000 or 4.3% increase over last month.   Condo sales led with a 1.7% increase of $5,100 over April 2014 and are now at $305,000, while single-family detached rose 1% or $5,000 to $520,000.  For the first time since May of 2014 and for only the second time since early 2012, year-over-year townhome prices showed a decline, dropping by 2.4% or $10,000 to $405,000.   

All jurisdictions in the region showed year-over-year increases in median sales price except for Alexandria City, which had an 11.1% decline in median sales price to $459,500, on nearly flat sales of 222 units. Falls Church City continues to have the highest median sales price at $780,000, a 36.2% increase over the prior year, but with only 12 sales compared to last year’s 15.  Arlington County saw a 16.7% increase in the median sales price to $572,900 from $491,000 with a 5.5% decrease in the number of sold listings to 241.  Fairfax City had a 9.7% increase in the number of April sales, from 31 to 34, along with a 4.2% increase in median sales price to $522,450, while Fairfax County saw a 3.2% increase in median sales price from $465,000 to $479,700 on an increased number of sales, up 7.4% to 1,308 units.

In Washington D.C., the median sales price grew 5% from to $524,900 from $499,900, on a 12% increase in sales to 711.  Prince George’s County had a 14.4% increase in the number of sales to 724 units, and a 2.8% increase in median sales price to $222,100 from $216,000.  Montgomery County had 16.7% increase in the number of sales, the largest percentage increase in the region, with total April sales of 1,016 units, along with a 1.4% increase in median sales price from $400,000 to $405,450.   For the year-to-date, all jurisdictions are stronger in both number of sales and median sales price except for Fairfax City.

Prince George's and Montgomery Counties account for 41% of all DC Metro sales, but 92% of REO (foreclosure) sales and 70% of short sales in the region because Maryland is a judicial state while Virginia and the District are not.  In Prince George’s County, the median sales price for non-distressed property is $250,000 while the median sales price of REO property is $175,000.  In Montgomery County, the differential is even larger, $435,000 for a non-distressed sale vs. $210,000 for REO properties.


April inventories 52% higher than April 2013, new listings at highest level in 60 months.  Active listings continue to rise and have now increased from the prior year for 19 consecutive months.  There were 10,867 active listings at the end of April, which is a 22.5% increase from last year and a 20.5% increase over last month.  While April inventories remain below the 10-year April average of 15,322, they modestly exceed the 5-year average of 10,611.  The largest number of active listings are in Fairfax County with 3,669 properties listed, followed by Montgomery County with 2,950.  Condo inventory growth continues to lead, with a 26.5% increase in the number of active condo listings in April to 2,860.  The number of townhome listings is up 24% to 1,870 and single-family detached listings are up 20.1% to 6,120. 

The overall number of new listings increased to 8,713, an 18.6% or 1,364 units increase compared to last year.  New listings for townhomes increased by the largest percentage, at 20.7% or 343 units, followed by single-family detached at 19.2% or 735 units and condos by 15.4% or 286 units.  New listings are up 1,753 or 25.2% compared to March 2015. 

At 14 days, the median days-on-market (DOM) increased by one day from last April, but dropped significantly from 25 days in March 2015.  Median days-on-market remains five days lower than the 5-year April average of 19, and is 15 days lower than the 10-year average of 29 days.  Single-family detached homes have a median DOM of 16, while townhomes and condos have 11 and 17 DOM respectively.  Prince Georges County has the highest number of days-on-market at 26 days, up from 21 days in April of 2014, while the lowest number of days-on-market is eight days in Washington D.C, down from 10 a year ago.


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 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 in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Monthly reports for all jurisdictions in the MRIS region, along with interactive charts and graphics, can be found at http://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 MLS.

About Elliot Eisenberg

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is the Chief Economist of GraphsandLaughs, LLC, a firm specializing in economic consulting and data analysis.  He is a frequent speaker on topics including: economic forecasts, economic impact of industries such as homebuilding and tourism, consequences of government regulation, economic development and other current economic issues. Dr. Eisenberg earned a B.A. in economics with first class honors from McGill University in Montreal, as well as a Masters and Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University. Eisenberg was formerly a Senior Economist with the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C.   He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk and public radio, writes a syndicated column and authors a daily 70 word commentary on the economy that is available at www.econ70.com


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