The Washington area housing market continues on an upswing, according to a report released Monday morning by RealEstate Business Intelligence.
Data for August show that sales rose to their highest level for the month in three years, new contracts reached their highest level for the month in six years and prices reached their highest level for the month in five years. The condo market is stronger than townhomes and detached homes, with double-digit growth in sales and new contracts compared to last year.
There were 4,062 sales last month in the region, up 6.4 percent from August 2011 but down 2.4 percent from July. The decrease was on par with the usual dip in sales from July to August. Sales of detached homes were 4.7 percent higher compared to a year ago, while townhome sales were up 5.1 percent. Condo sales soared 12 percent greater than a year ago.
There were 4,482 new contracts signed in August, an increase of 7.5 percent from August 2011. Contracts on condos climbed 15.7 percent from a year ago, while contracts on detached homes went up 2.3 percent and contracts on townhomes increased 9.9 percent compared to August 2011.
The region’s median home price of $385,000 was almost unchanged from July, but it increased $29,000 or 8.1 percent from August 2011 — marking the seventh straight month of year-over-year increases in home prices. Detached homes rose 7.9 percent, townhomes 6.9 percent and condos 6.3 percent from last year at this time.
The number of active listings continues to shrink to historic lows. There were only 9,191 active listings in the region last month, which were the fewest in eight years, down 35.8 percent from August 2011 and the lowest August since 2004. The 4,769 new listings entered in August were the fewest on record for that month, dating back to when the data was first tracked in 1997.
Because of the low inventory, properties aren’t remaining on the market long. The median days on market was 26 last month compared to 37 in August 2011. The low supply also has impacted the sales-to-list price ratio, which rose to 96.2 percent last month, up from 94.2 percent in August 2011.
RBIntel cites persistent low inventory as the driver of these gains. The report states that “many people are likely keeping their homes off the market due to continued economic uncertainty, preferring to wait it out.”
It also points out that many homeowners face negative equity, which deters them from entering the market.