Double-digit gains in DC Metro contract activity in August

Posted on September 10, 2015 by Corey Hart



Closed sales up for ninth straight month; Prices dip slightly for first time this year

Rockville, MD – (September 10, 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 August 2015 MRIS housing data.


The Washington, D.C. Metro housing market ended the summer season with strong sales activity.  Pending sales are at their highest August levels in a decade, while sold activity is at the third highest August level in a decade.  Median sales prices dipped slightly, overall inventories increased, although at a slightly slower pace than recent months, and median days-on-market increased to 25 days.    

The 4,515 closed sales in August represent a 7.8% increase from last year, although they are down 13.6% from last month.  New contracts rose by 10.6% from August 2014 to 4,713, and dropped 9.7% compared to last month. This marks the sixth consecutive month that all market segments have experienced year-over-year increases in both closed sales and new contracts.  The overall median sales price dipped a slight 1.0% to $411,000.  The median sales price for single-family detached declined 3.9% to $500,000, while townhome prices remained flat at $400,000 and condos increased 0.8% to $302,250.  Month-over-month prices were down 9.1% for single-family detached and down 2.4% for townhomes, although condo prices rose 4.2%.

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Compared to last year, inventories increased by 10.3% to 12,329 total active listings, with the number of condos increasing by 20.8% to 3,083, townhome listings increasing by 10.9% to 2,435 and single-family detached listings increasing by 5.9% to 6,800.  New listings of 5,796 are 6.4% higher than August 2014 and are at the highest August level since 2008.  Median days-on-market (DOM) rose by three days to 25 compared to last month and by six days compared to last month.

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All segments exhibit year-over-year growth for sixth consecutive month, sales increase across all property types. Year-over-year closed sales of 4,515 increased by 7.8% compared to last year.  This is the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year increases and the second highest level of August sales since 2006.  Closed sales exceeded the 5-year average of 4,241 and the 10-year average of 4,282.  Year-to-date, the number of closed sales of 34,316 is up 9.8% compared to last year, with all jurisdictions in the region continuing to show increases in the number of sales compared to last year.    

All market segments showed growth in closed sales year-over-year. Townhome sales were the strongest with an 8.1% increase to 1,146 sales, condo sales increased by 8.0% to 1,188, and single-family detached sales were up 7.7% to 2,180.  Not surprisingly, overall sales compared to last month are down by 710 units or 13.6%, with townhomes down 18.7%, single-family detached showing a 13.0% decrease and condos experiencing a 9.3% decrease.  


Best August new contract activity in a decade, single-family homes show strongest gains.  There were 4,713 new pending sales August, a 10.6% increase compared to last year.  This is the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year increases, and the seventh consecutive month that all market segments demonstrated year-over-year increases. New contracts are at the highest August level in at least a decade and exceeded the 5-year average by 6.3% and the 10-year average by 16.5%.  Single-family detached had the largest year-over-year increase at 13.8% to 2,268 pending sales, followed by condos with a 10.4% increase to 1,252, and townhomes with a 5.4% increase to 1,193.  There was a decrease in pending sales of 9.7% compared to last month, with townhomes down 11.2%, single-family detached down 10.7% and condos down 6.4%.    Across the region year-to-date, all jurisdictions show increases in the number of new contracts, and the regional new contracts total of 42,163 is up 9.6% compared to 2014.


Median sales prices decline slightly but remain healthy.  The August median sales price of $411,000 is a $4,000 or a 1.0% decrease over August 2014, but is still above the 5-year average of $396,400.  While single-family detached prices declined 3.9% to $500,000, townhome median sales prices were unchanged at $400,000, and condo prices inched up 0.8% to $302,250.  Single-family detached prices dropped 9.1% from last month and townhome prices dropped 2.4%, but condos were up 4.2%.  The year-to-date median sales price of $415,500 is up 1.3% from last year.  Sales volume across the region was nearly $2.3 billion, up 7.8% compared to last year.

Across the region, price changes were mixed while the number of sales generally increased.  Falls Church City saw a significant 30.9% decline in median sales price to $570,000 but with only 15 sales, the same as last year, median sales prices are highly subject to significant price swings.  Arlington County saw prices increase 2.8% to $544,000 on 256 sales, a 9.9% increase.  In Alexandria City, median sales prices rose 17.6% to $523,500 on 234 sales, a 10.9% increase over last year.  Prices in Washington D.C. rose $45,000 to $520,000 with 686 sales, a 3.0% increase over last year. 

In Fairfax City, the number of sales increased 17.9% to 33 with a decline in median sales prices to $489,000, a 4% decrease.  Fairfax County saw an insignificant 0.3% decline in median sales price to $476,500, with a 2.7% increase in the number of sales to 1,353.  Montgomery County experienced a 3.6% drop in median sales price to $400,000, while Prince George’s County saw median sales prices increase 4.3% to $245,000.  The number of sales in Montgomery County rose 9.4% to 1,123 and by 17.8% in Prince George’s County to 815.


Inventories continue to grow but more slowly, new listings are at highest August level since 2008, DOM rise to 5-year average of 25.  With 12,329 active listings at the end of August (a 10.3% increase over last year), this marks the 23rd consecutive month of increases in the year-over-year number of active listings.  After rising to a peak Y-O-Y increase of 34.6% in August 2014, inventory growth has steadily declined to the current level.  Condo inventory growth remains strong, with a 20.8% increase in the number of active listings to 3,083.  The number of townhome listings is up 10.9% to 2,435 and single-family detached listings are up 5.9% to 6,800.  Inventory levels exceed the 5-year average of 11,065, but are still significantly below the 10-year average of 15,783.  Compared to last month, inventories are down a slight 1.9%.  Inventories remain the highest in Fairfax County, with 4,391 units on the market, a 15.7% increase over last year.  Montgomery County inventories are up 6.1% over last year to 3,300 units, while Prince Georges County has 2,128 units on the market, 11.6% more than last year. 

The  5,796 new listings added in August represent a 6.4% increase over last year.  New listings for condos increased by the largest percentage of 7.0% to 1,465, followed by single-family detached up 6.5% to 2,844 and townhomes up 5.9% to 1,487.  Compared to last month, the number of new listings are down by 1,018 or 14.9%.  The number of new listings exceeds the 5-year average of 5,235 but is slightly below the 10-year average of 5,929.  The number of new listings for the period January-August is up by 4,645 or 9.6% compared to last year. 

Median days-on-market (DOM) increased three days from last year to 25, matching the five-year August average but well below the ten-year average of 34 days. Townhomes continue to have the smallest median DOM of 19 days, while condos have a median DOM of 25 and single-family detached have a median DOM of 28.  Properties in Washington D.C. have the lowest median DOM of 13 (down from 15 days last year), while those in Fairfax City are the highest at 34 days, up significantly from last year’s 19.



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 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

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