Lowest January Inventory Level Since 2005 in DC Metro Area

Posted on February 10, 2012 by Corey Hart



Foreclosed Inventory & Sales Continue to Decline

Rockville, MD (February 10, 2012) – The following analysis of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area housing market has been prepared by RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI), and is based on the January 2012 RBI Pending Home Sales Index™ released today.

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Inventory levels continue to shrink in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area compared to years past, with only 10,095 active listings representing the lowest January level since 2005. Against this backdrop of reduced inventory, the number of contracts signed in January still managed to outpace the five-year January average by a sizable 22.0%. Foreclosed inventory is down sharply year-over-year with 67.2% fewer foreclosed properties for sale at month’s end compared to January 2011. The average sold price per square foot for foreclosed properties in January was less than half the $289 price per square foot level for traditional sales.


Contract Activity and Sales

There were 2,343 homes sold in the D.C. Metro Area in January, down 2.9% from January 2011, but 3.1% higher than the five-year January average. The townhouse market actually saw a year-over-year increase of 1.4% over January 2011, with 642 closed sales. The 1,090 detached properties sold represented a decline of 6.1% from the January 2011 level.

The 333 foreclosed property sales represented a decrease of 38.3% compared to 540 sales in January 2011 and a decline of 55.1% compared to 742 sales in January 2010. The 370 closed short sales were up 3.4% year-over-year, but accounted for only 15.8% of the sold market share. 7 out of 10 sales (70%) were traditional, not involving foreclosed or short sale properties, down slightly from a 72.8% share last month, but an improvement over January 2011 (62.8% traditional) and significantly higher than January 2010 (only 57.2% traditional).

Contract activity continues to show positive signs, with 3,802 new contracts signed in January representing a 4.6% year-over-year increase, boding well for the year’s beginning and showing evidence of increasing consumer confidence.

Inventory level remains low, though some areas see increase in new listing activity vs. January 2011.

After closing 2011 with the lowest inventory level since August 2005, listing activity resumed normal seasonal patterns with 54.1% more new listings entering the market in January compared to new listings in December (the 10-year average December to January change is +51.3%). But the 4,178 new listings still represent a 4.7% year-over-year decline and the low inventory level remains the key story of the DC Metro Area market. With 10,095 active listings representing a mere 3 months of supply against an annualized rate of 3,328 sales per month, the shortage in supply should continue to put upward pressure on pricing. The inventory level represents a 25.3% decrease compared to the 13,510 active listings at the end of January 2011.

While new listing activity was down 4.7% region-wide, 5 of the 8 jurisdictions actually saw a year-over-year increase in new listings in January: Falls Church (+100%), Fairfax City (+32%), Arlington (+11.5%), Fairfax County (+6.8%), and Washington, D.C. (1.0%). Prince George’s County saw the largest year-over-year decrease with 938 new listings representing 24.4% fewer new sellers than the 1,240 that entered the market in January 2011.

The foreclosed market share of active inventory continued to fall, with only 4.9% of active listings under foreclosure representing less than half the 11.1% share in January 2011. Although the 2,278 short sales on the active market are down 27.7% year-over-year, the 22.6% share of the market is only nominally lower than the 23.3% share in January 2011.

Pricing Remains Stable

Home prices saw a nominal 1% year-over-year decline, with a median sold price of $310,000 in January compared to $313,000 in January 2011. The average sold price, which can be more influenced by outliers at the high-end of the market, actually increased 1.4% year-over-year to 396,823. Half of the jurisdictions in the region saw a year-over-year increase in median sales price: Arlington (17.2%), Falls Church (16.6%), Alexandria (2.1%) and Fairfax County (2.1%).

The median price for detached homes in the region increased 2.9% from January 2011 to $385,898 while the median price for attached townhouse properties was down 3.2 percent to $300,000 and condo/coop prices were down 3.9% to $230,000. Foreclosed listings had a median sold price of $175,000, or 46% of the $375,000 median for traditional property sales. But the traditional median sale price was down 5.1% from January 2011 while the foreclosed median sale price represents a 6.1% increase year-over-year. The $200,000 median sale price for short sales represents a 15.3% year-over-year decrease from the $236,000 level in January 2011.

The average sold price per square foot for foreclosed properties was $142 while short sales sold for an average of $152 per square foot in January. Comparing these levels with the $289 sold price per square foot average for traditional sales underscores the importance of tracking the bank-mediated composition of the market in the year ahead.

The RBI Pending Home Sales Index™ is a two-year moving window on the housing market using new pending sales (signed contracts) and median sales price (closed sales). It provides unique insight into the state of the current housing market by measuring the number of new pending sales for each month through the most recent month.The results include new pending sales through and including January 2011. The market area 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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