Winter weather continues to slow DC Metro housing market activity in February

Posted on March 10, 2014 by Corey Hart



Decrease in new listings from last year; Prices up


February was another unusually cold and snowy month in the Washington DC Metro Area which may have contributed to a less active housing market.  Both buyer and seller activity slowed, with closed sales, new contracts and new listings all decreasing from this time last year.  Closed sales fell 3.5 percent and new contracts declined 11.3 percent from February 2013.  New listings decreased 3.3 percent from last year.  While closed sales and new contracts also had year-over-year declines in January, this was the first such decrease in new listings since spring 2013.  Despite the decline in new listings, active listings rose and have now increased from the prior year for five consecutive months.  There were 7,011 active listings at the end of February, 15.1 percent more than last February.  However, inventory remains low and is only 27.1 percent of its 2007 peak.  Tight inventory continues to play a role in price growth and the median sales price for the region increased 5.6 percent from last year.  This is the 25th month in a row of year-over-year increases for the region’s median price. 

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As the weather improves, both buyers and potential sellers may be more inclined to enter the market.  “As the region finally thaws out, we anticipate a very active March market,” said Jonathan Hill, President of RealEstate Business Intelligence. “Typical seasonal patterns suggest around a 35 percent increase in listing activity compared to February and a 25 percent month-over-month jump in new contracts as the spring market kicks into gear.”


Decrease in closed sales in all property segments.  The number of closed sales in the Washington DC Metro Area decreased 3.5 percent, or by 94 sales, from last February to 2,590 sales.  Closed sales have now fallen as compared to the prior year for two months in a row with the weather likely playing a role in both months.  Despite the decrease in closed sales from February 2013, the number of closed sales was higher than the February-level for the five years preceding 2013.  The number of sales increased 6.0 percent from last month, which is a milder increase than the 10-year average January to February change of 7.3 percent.  All property segments had fewer closed sales than last year.  Condo properties declined the least, falling 1.0 percent, or by 8 sales, from this time last year.  Townhome sales and single-family detached home sales decreased 2.4 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.


25th month in a row of year-over-year increases; highest February-level since 2008.  At $375,000, the median sales price in the Washington DC Metro Area increased 5.6 percent, or by $20,000, from this time last year.  This is the 25th consecutive year-over-year increase and the highest February-level in six years. The median sales price for townhomes increased 7.1 percent, or by $25,000, from last year and led all property segments in price growth.  The median sales price for condo properties rose by nearly as much, increasing 6.8 percent, or by $18,000, from February 2013.  The median sales price for single-family detached homes rose 4.1 percent from last year, which is also a gain of $18,000.

Of the jurisdictions, Prince George’s County had the highest growth in median sale price, increasing 25.2 percent from February 2013.  The median sales price in Prince George’s county has now had double-digit increases from the prior year for the past 12 months.  Only Falls Church City and Fairfax County had a lower median sales price as compared to last February.


Decrease in new contracts for all property segments.  There were 3,792 new contracts signed in February, 11.3 percent, or 485 contracts, fewer than this time last year.  This is the third consecutive month of decreases for this indicator.  New contracts increased 8.2 percent from last month, which is in line with the ten-year average January to February change of 8.7 percent.  As compared to last February, new contracts for single-family detached homes had the sharpest decline, falling 14.6 percent, or by 299 contracts.  New contracts for condo properties decreased 9.1 percent, or by 108 contracts, while those for condo properties decreased 7.4 percent, or by 78 contracts.


Fifth consecutive year-over-year increase in active listings; decrease in new inventory.  There were 7,011 active listings in the Washington DC Metro Area at the end of February, which is 15.1 percent, or 919 listings, more than this time last year.  Active listings have now increased from the prior year for five months in a row and all property segments have done so for two consecutive months.  Despite this increase, active listings are 72.9 percent lower than their September 2007 peak.  Active listings for condo properties had the sharpest increase, rising 28.8 percent, or by 420 listings.  Active listings for townhomes rose nearly as much, increasing 25.7 percent, or by 259 listings.  There were 3,862 single-family detached home listings, 6.7 percent, or 244 listings, more than last year.  For the first time since spring 2013, new listings decreased from the prior year.  There were 4,939 new listings in February which is a decrease of 3.3 percent, or 148 listings, from February 2013.  All property segments had fewer new listings than last year.  New listings of townhomes fell 4.4 percent, or by 48 listings, from this time last year.  New listings of single-family detached homes decreased 3.4 percent or by 74 listings.  Those for condo properties decreased 2.0 percent or by 25 listings.  The median-days-on-market rose by 4 days from last February to 28 days.  While this is the first increase in two years, the number of days remains lower than its 10-year average February-level of 49.


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.

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