Fed shutdown’s impact apparent in November sales in the DC Metro Area

Posted on December 10, 2013 by Corey Hart



October's shutdown resulted in a sluggish November


Closed sales in the Washington DC Metro Region housing market stalled in November, likely due to the uncertainty caused by the shutdown of the federal government in October.  Closed sales decreased 13.7 percent from this time last year.  This is the first decline since March of last year and the largest decline in over two years.  Sales decreased 21.2 percent from last month, which is nearly five times the 10-year average October to November change.  Even with the decline in closed sales, the median sales price increased 8.1 percent from last year and median prices increased in every jurisdiction except Arlington County.  New pending contracts increased 3.3 percent from last November, but new pending contracts decreased both in Fairfax County (-1.5 percent) and Prince George’s County (-5.8 percent). 

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Seller activity continues to increase as prices rise. For the second consecutive month, active listings increased from last year, driven by townhomes and condo properties.  Even with this increase, supply remains tight and is only 31.9 percent of its 2007 peak level.  New listings increased 13.7 percent from last year, but declined from last month in line with seasonal patterns.    Homes continue to sell quickly and the median-days-on-market for all homes is 20 days.  Despite the resolution of the Federal shutdown, some uncertainty remains due to sequestration and federal cut-backs.  Some buyers directly affected by the shutdown may have delayed their decision to purchase and add to demand in upcoming months. 


Largest year-over-year decrease in closed sales in over two years. There were 3,068 sales in November in the Washington DC Metro Area, 13.7 percent less than a year ago. This is the first year-over-year decline in nearly two years, and the largest decline since the summer of 2011. The number of sales decreased 21.1 percent from last month, which nearly five times the 10-year average October to November change of -4.4 percent.

Even with this sluggish November, there have been 9 .6 percent more homes sold year-to-date than over the same period last year and the 44,938 year-to-date tally is already higher than the 44,615 total sales for all of 2012. The number of November sales declined in all property segments as compared to this time last year, however. Sales of condo properties decreased 6.1 percent from last November, which is the mildest decline of the property segments. Detached home sales and townhome sales decreased 16.2 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively.


Highest November-level in seven years. At $399,950, the median sales price in the Washington DC Metro Area is 8.1 percent, or $19,950, higher than this time last year. This is the highest November-level in seven years. This was the 22nd consecutive month with annual gains in price. Condos led all property segments in median sales price rate of growth, increasing 8.3 percent from November 2012 for a gain of $22,500. The median sales price for townhomes increased 5.6, or by $21,000, from this time last year. The median sales price of detached homes rose 4.9 percent, a gain of $22,000 from last year.

Among the jurisdictions in the region, Falls Church City had the highest growth rate, increasing 34.4 percent from November 2012, followed by Prince George’s County (+16.3). Notably, there were only 7 sales in Fall Church City in November, so the dramatic increase in median sales price is not a reliable indication of true appreciation. Arlington County was the only jurisdiction to have a year-over-year sales price decrease. The year-to-date median sales price for the region as a whole increased to $399,999 from $365,000 for a 9.6 percent gain from the same period last year.


Increase in contracts driven by condos and townhomes.  “The impact of the October shutdown appears to have created only a temporary pause in sales, as new contract activity resumed positive trends in November,” said Jonathan Hill, President of RealEstate Business Intelligence. “There were 3,854 new contracts signed in November, the highest November total in seven years.”  This represented a 3.3 percent increase in new purchase activity, with 122 more contracts than November 2012. Townhomes had the highest rate of growth in new contracts, increasing 6.9 percent, or by 66 contracts, from last November.  New contracts for condo properties increased 6.7 percent, or by 64 contracts.  Single-family detached homes decreased 0.5 percent, or by 9 contracts.


Increase in active inventory; continued double-digit increases in new listings.  Active listings in the DC Metro Area increased 5.7 percent from this time last year to 8,276 listings at the end of November.  This is an increase of 446 listings and the second month of increases for this indicator.  Despite this increase, active listings are 68.1 percent lower than their September 2007 peak.  Single-family detached homes were the only property segment to have fewer listings compared to this time last year, declining 0.8 percent, and bringing them to their lowest November-level in eight years.  There were 1,561 townhome listings, 16.8 percent, or 224 listings, more than last year.  Active listings for condo properties increased 14.5 percent, or 258 listings, from this time last year.  This is the third consecutive year-over year increase for both townhomes and condos.  Gains in new listings have contributed to the increase in active listings.  There were 3,896 new listings in November, which is an increase of 13.7 percent from last year.  This is the eighth consecutive month of double-digit growth for this indicator, evidence that sellers are becoming more confident in the market.  Townhomes led all property segments in new listing growth, increasing 23.6 percent from last November.  New listings of condo properties increased 17.3 percent, and new listings for single-family detached homes increased 7.0 percent from this time last year.  The median-days-on-market remains historically low, at 20 days, and is the lowest November-level since 2005, when it was also 20.


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.


DC Metro Area, market analysis, press release
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