Year-over-Year Gains in Sales Price and Contract Activity in DC Metro Area

Posted on March 12, 2012 by Corey Hart



New Foreclosed Listings at Lowest Level since March 2008

Rockville, MD (March 12, 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 February 2012 RBI Pending Home Sales Index™ released today.

View PDF version of this analysis


The 2,507 homes sold in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area represent the highest February total since 2007. Inventory levels continue to decline with the 9,823 active listings to end the month representing the lowest supply of homes since August 2005. With 368 active foreclosures representing only 3.7% of the active market (the lowest level since July 2008) and the fewest new foreclosures entering the market since March 2008, pricing continues to stabilize with median sales price up 6.0% over February 2011 levels. 




With historically low interest rates, a continuation of low supply levels and recent declines in the bank-mediated composition of the active market, it’s not surprising to see the median sale price in the DC Metro Area is up 6.0% year-over-year to $317,900. The median sale price for townhouse properties was up 9.5% over February 2011, condo/co-op prices were up 6.8% and detached properties were 2.8% higher than the same period last year. Year to date, the median sales price of $312,000 represents a 4.0% increase over January-February 2011. 

Closed Sales and New Contracts

There were 2,507 homes sold in the D.C. Metro Area in February, 4.2% higher than the five-year February average and representing a 1.9%increase over February 2011 and a 7.0%increase over last month.  The 663 townhouses sold in February were 7.1% higher than last February’s level and the 682 condo/co-op listings sold represent a 2.7% year-over-year increase.  The detached property segment experienced a slight decline in closed sales with 1,160 sales, 1.5% lower than the 1,178 sales in February 2011.

One of the more promising trends involves the composition of the sold inventory. Foreclosed sales are down 41.9% year-over-year to 339 and the share of foreclosed homes sold dropped from 23.7% in February 2011 to 13.5% in February 2012. This certainly had a positive impact on the median sales price for the region. Closed short sales were up 14.4% year over year, but the total short sale market share edged up only slightly from 14.7% in February 2011 to 16.5% in February 2012. 


There was a significant uptick in new contracts in February, with 4,501 new contract agreements signed representing an 18.4% increase over January and an 11.4% increase over February 2011. For context, the 10-year average difference between January and February contracts is a modest 6.5% increase and the 4,501 level is 28.8% higher than the five-year February average.  The increase in contract activity was influenced by continued low interest rates, increasing consumer confidence and unusually mild winter weather compared to years past  and is a promising sign heading into the spring market.

New Listing Activity

It’s difficult to say if the milder weather drew more potential sellers into the market (or, more likely, kept them out of the market during the harsh weather in February 2011), but the 4,794 new properties listed in February are 2.3% more than the same period last year. With the well publicized inventory shortage in the DC Metro Area as a backdrop, February marked the first time since May 2011 that the area saw a year-over-year increase in new listing activity. The February new listings level is 14.7% higher than last month, bucking the 10-year average trend of new listing activity decreasing a nominal 0.6% from January to February. There was a significant increase in detached homes entering the market, with 2,536 new listings representing a 24.7% month-over-month increase.

The 3,707 new traditional listings, or those not involving a short sale or foreclosure, represented a 20.3%jump from the January 2012 level and a 13.8% increase over February 2011. The 278 new listings entering the market under foreclosure are exactly half the 556 new foreclosed listings in February 2011.  


Overall Inventory

After months of reports describing a dwindling supply of inventory, where does this purchase activity vs. increased new listing activity leave the supply story for the DC Metro Area at the end of February? The story remains the same:  Active inventory is at the lowest level since August 2005.  The 9,823 active listings to close the month represent a 27.3% dip from February 2011 and are 38.5% lower than the five-year February average. While traditional listings are down 17.6% year-over-year, active inventory of foreclosures and short sales are down 73.0% and 35.8% respectively. 



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 February 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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