October is typically a transition month in real estate, when the market shifts from the high volume of September to the slower pace typically seen as the holidays approach and the year winds down.
But the Washington-area real estate market last month showed steady progress and across-the-board gains, according to a new report released Monday.
Last month, October sales reached their highest level since 2009. Prices from October 2012 to last month rose in most jurisdictions in the region, especially in Prince George’s County which was hard-hit during the housing slump. And days on the market dropped, an indication of strong buyer demand.
The report by RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of Rockville-based multiple-listing service MRIS, shows that the supply of listings loosened with end-of-month inventory rising for the first time in two years. More condo and townhouse units entered the market, helping to boost new listings 19.2 percent during the past 12 months.
“Price increases are very encouraging for all jurisdictions,” said Jeannette Chapman, research associate at the Center for Regional Analysis, which helped prepare the report.
“Inventory is starting to loosen — that may moderate price increases,” Chapman added. “But the increase in inventory may be too small to make a difference in pricing.”
Driving the momentum in the market was prices. The January-to-October median sales price reached $399,999, representing a 9.6 percent gain from the same period a year ago, according to the report. Last month’s median sales price reached $380,000, up $17,500 or 4.8 percent from a year ago.
Sales prices for all property types rose significantly — condos were up 9.3 percent or $25,000; single-family houses, 7.5 percent or $31,800; and townhouses, 6.7 percent or $24,550.
The rising sales prices likely pulled many homes from under water, giving owners who may have been on the sidelines an opportunity to list their properties.
Evidence of owners’ growing willingness to list is playing out in the market through improved inventory levels.
Active listings last month reached 9,254, up 5.6 percent or 488 from a year ago, according to the report. This was the first year-over-year increase in more than two years. As they did in sales, condos surpassed other property types in new listings. New condo listings rose 31.6 percent, while townhouses and single-family houses were up 19.4 percent and 13 percent respectively.
Growing inventory should help buyers, many of whom since the recovery began more than two years ago have lost properties they sought through increasingly more aggressive bidding wars in popular neighborhoods.
Still, the bidding wars aren’t going away anytime soon. Active listings are 64.3 percent below the peak in September 2007.
The high buyer demand and low inventory levels mean that many homes in popular neighborhoods like Logan Circle get snatched up almost as quickly as they hit the market. The median days on the market dropped to 16 last month from 23 a year ago.
Median sales prices rose in almost all the local jurisdictions that RealEstate Business Intelligence and the Center for Regional Analysis track.
From October to October, they climbed the most in Prince George’s County — up 15.6 percent, reaching $208,000. Prices were up 11.8 percent in Falls Church City, reaching $590,000; and up 2.2 percent in the District, reaching $455,000.
But in Howard County, the median sales price dropped 0.9 percent to $228,000.