Strong seller's market continues into 2020 in the DC area

Posted on February 11, 2020 by Corey Hart



Washington D.C. Metro kicks off 2020 with record January price of $444,000; closed sales continue rising despite inventory levels at decade low

Rockville, MD – (February 11, 2020) – The following analysis of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area housing market has been prepared by Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. of MarketStats by ShowingTime and is based on January 2020 Bright MLS housing data.

Click here to view PDF version of this report


  • The Washington D.C. Metro area began the year with a median home price of $444,000, the highest January price of the decade.  Prices were up 5.7% or $24,000 from last January, and this marked the 40th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.
  • Sales volume across the DC Metro area was over $1.7 billion, up 19.4% over last year.
  • Closed sales of 2,964 rose by 8.0%, the fifth month in a row of year-over-year increases.
  • New pending sales were up by 4.0% to 3,979, good news after two months of declines.
  • New listings were up for the second month in a row, by a pleasant 7.8% to 4,784.
  • Still, active listings compared to last January were down 14.8% to 5,385, the eighth month in a row of double-digit declines in year-over-year inventory, albeit the smallest lost since last July.
  • The average percent of original list price received at sale in January was 97.7%, up from last January’s 97.2% and at the highest January level of the decade.  Median days-on-market was 26, down from 33 last January.


  • January’s median sales price of $444,000 was up 5.7% or $24,000 compared to last year but was down a seasonal 3.5% or $15,950 compared to last month. 
  • Compared to last year, prices for condos rose 8.3% to $330,200, single-family detached homes rose by 1.5% to $530,000 and townhome prices dipped a slight 0.7% to $425,450.
  • Prices are well above the 5-year average of $405,880 and the 10-year average of $375,060.
  • This month’s median sales price is 43.2% higher than the $310,000 trough seen in January 2012.
  • Arlington County, with a median sales price of $584,500, replaced Falls Church City as the area with the highest median sales price.  Prince George’s County remains the most affordable area, with a median sales price of $320,000.
  • Alexandria City ($510,500), Montgomery County ($450,000) and Prince George’s County ($320,000) all saw year-over-year price gains of about 12.5%.  Fairfax County (+5.2% to $515,375) and Washington D.C. (+2.3% to $550,000) saw gains, while Arlington County (-5.0% to $584,500), Fairfax City (-8.1% to $431,000) and Falls Church City (-42.2% to $420,000) saw declines.


  • Closed sales of 2,964 were up 8.0% over last year (but last January’s numbers may have been abnormally low due to the government shutdown).  They were down 30.0% from last month.
  • Sales of all property types were up, with townhome sales increasing 12.3% to 787, single-family detached sales up 10.3% to 1,344 and condos up a slight 1.6% to 832.
  • Sales are just above the 5-year average of 2,880 and are well above the 10-year average of 2,665.
  • January closed sales are 26.5% above the January 2012 trough of 2,343 and are just 1.7% below the 2017 peak of 3,014.
  • Year-over-year closed sales rose in Montgomery County (+26.5% to 669), in Prince George’s County (+15.1% to 662), in Washington D.C. (+10.7% to 568) and in Fairfax City (+7.1% to 15).  Closed sales fell in Fairfax County (-3.6% to 770), in Alexandria City (-8.5% to 130), in Arlington County (-11.5% to 146) and in Falls Church City (-50.0% to 4).


  • The 3,979 new pending sales at the end of January were up 4.0% above last year and at the highest January level of the past decade.  They were up a seasonal 30.3% over last month.
  • New pending sales of condos were up 12.5% to 1,183 and townhomes were up 6.7% to 1,033.  Single-family new pending sales were, however, down 2.2% compared to last year, to just 1,762.  
  • Pending sales are above the 5-year average of 3,828 and the 10-year average of 3,772.
  • New pending sales this month were 16.2% more than the January 2016 low of 3,423.
  • Pending sales were up meaningfully in Washington D.C. (+17.7% to 770) and in Montgomery County (+14.2% to 918) and rose moderately in Fairfax City (+3.5% to 30), Alexandria City (+2.9% to 178), Fairfax County (+1.4% to 992) and Arlington County (+1.2% to 166).  They declined in Prince George’s County (-9.3% to 918) and in Falls Church City (-41.7% to 7).


  • New listings of 4,784 were at the highest January level of the decade, gaining 7.8% over last January.  They were up a slightly higher-than-normal 70.8% over last month. 
  • Compared to last year, new listings of condos rose 16.7% to 1,513.  New townhome listings were up 9.1% to 1,232, and new listings of single-family homes rose 1.7% to 2,039.
  • New listings were solidly above the 5-year average of 4,404 and the 10-year average of 4,290. 
  • January new listings were 19.5% above the 10-year low of 4,004 seen in January 2013.
  • New listing activity was mostly up across the region, with the largest gain in Washington D.C., where new listings rose 20.1% to 1,075.  Arlington County (+9.4% to 209), Fairfax County (+7.4% to 1,188), Alexandria City (+7.1% to 211) and Montgomery County (+6.2% to 1,027) also saw increases in new listings.  Prince George’s County was virtually flat at 1,043.  Fairfax City (-14.3% to 24) and Falls Church City (-41.7% to 7) saw declines.


  • Active inventories of 5,385, the lowest monthly level of the last decade, declined 14.8% compared to last year and declined 1.9% from last month.  With just three small exceptions, levels have declined since May of 2016, and have decreased by double-digits since June of 2019.
  • Condo inventories rose by 4.9% to 1,574, but townhomes declined by 15.4% to 1,064.  Single-family detached active listings declined by 22.5% to just 2,747, their lowest level in 10 years.
  • Inventories are well below both the 5-year average of 6,673 and the 10-year average of 7,771.
  • January inventory levels are just 40% of the peak of 13,510 seen in January 2011.
  • Inventory levels compared to last year increased only in Washington D.C. (+3.4% to 1,278).  Elsewhere, the smallest percentage decline in inventory was in Fairfax City (-2.8% to 35), followed by Alexandria City (-13.4% to 129), Fairfax County (-15.6% to 1,144), Montgomery County (-15.9% to 1,302), Arlington County (-17.8% to 166), Prince George’s County (-25.6% to 1,326) and Falls Church City (-66.7% to 5).


  • The regional average sales price to original listing price ratio (SP to OLP ratio) for January was 97.7%, up a bit from last year’s 97.2% but down just slightly from last month’s 97.9%.
  • Townhomes have the highest January SP to OLP ratio of 98.5%, followed by condos with a SP to OLP ratio of 97.7%, and single-family detached homes with a SP to OLP ratio of 97.2%.
  • January’s SP to OLP exceeds the 5-year average of 97.0% and the 10-year average of 95.9%.
  • Over the last decade, the highest January average sales price to original listing price ratio was this month’s 97.7%.  The lowest was in 2011, when it was just 92.4%.
  • Arlington County had the highest SP to OLP ratio of 98.6% in January, up from 97.4% last year.
  • Montgomery County had the lowest SP to OLP ratio of 97.0%, up from last year’s 96.6%.
  • Across the region, SP to OLP ratios were generally up, although they declined in Falls Church City (down from 97.9% to 97.0%).  Fairfax City saw the largest increase in SP to OLP ratio (from 96.0% to 97.9%) and Washington D.C. saw the smallest (from 97.2% to 97.3.%)


  • The median days-on-market (DOM) was at the lowest January level of the decade at 26 days, down from 33 days last year.  It did rise from 20 days last month.
  • Townhomes have a median DOM of 20, while condos have a median DOM of 21, and single-family detached homes have a median DOM of 33.
  • January’s median DOM was six days below the 5-year average of 32 days and 12 days below the 10-year average of 38 days.
  • The highest January median DOM of the last 10 years was 56 days in 2011 and January 2018’s 29 days had been the January low until this month.
  • Montgomery County had the highest January median days-on-market in the region at 34, down from 41 days in January of 2019. 
  • Fairfax City had the lowest median DOM of 10 days, down significantly from 49 days last January.
  • Median days-on-market declined everywhere except in Washington D.C., where they rose from 27 days to 32 days.

About the DC 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 ShowingTime’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. Data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing activity from Bright MLS.

About Bright MLS

The Bright MLS real estate service area spans 40,000 square miles throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. As a leading Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Bright serves approximately 95,000 real estate professionals who in turn serve over 20 million consumers. For more information, please visit

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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