Affordability could be an issue in the Washington area’s recovering housing market

The D.C. region has been called the leader of the nation’s housing market. Indeed, even as other markets across the country begin to recover, prices in the Washington area continue to rise and have been up for 26 out of the last 30 months, according to data from RBIntel. 


(RBIntel, GMU Center for Regional Analysis, April 2012)

House for sale in Logan Circle in Northwest D.C. (Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)

These are the same prices we saw five or six years ago when affordability was a front and center issue.  Interest rates are somewhat lower now than they were at the market peak — which makes the overall cost of housing lower — but incomes and families’ purchasing power have been flat. In jurisdictions where prices have returned close to peak, it is very difficult for anyone but the highest income families and individuals to buy a house.   

Amid the news of the continued recovery of our housing market, it is important to acknowledge that affordability is still an issue for many people.  In some jurisdictions, affordability is just as big a problem now as it was at the peak of the housing market.

Lisa A. Sturtevant is an assistant research professor at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.


View Photo Gallery: Homebuyers in the D.C. area searching for affordable housing are running into an all-too-common problem: There are too few homes available for less than $400,000, as low mortgage rates and high rents have pushed demand to an all-time high.

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