Home sales fell again last month, the third month in a row of year-over-year declines. Compared to last year when the housing market started off strong, the past three months have been lackluster.
The cold, snowy weather hasn’t helped. Neither has rising mortgage rates and tougher loan standards. Although the numbers continue to disappoint, spring is typically the time when the housing market picks up. Now that the sun is shining and the cherry blossoms are blooming, home buyers and sellers will be watching anxiously to see if sales bounce back.
According to a report by RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of multiple-listing service MRIS, there were 3,168 homes sold in the D.C. metro region last month, down 11.2 percent from March 2013. It was the fewest homes sold in the month of March since 2009. Condo sales fell the least, declining by 8.9 percent, while townhouses sank 11.1 percent and single-family detached homes dropped 12.8 percent.
One indication that the market may be gaining steam is the number of people putting their homes on the market. A lack of houses for sale has kept many potential home buyers on the sidelines and depressed sales. Now that more inventory is becoming available and the weather is nicer, nothing should prevent home buyers from finding the house of their dreams.
There were 7,604 homes listed for sale at the end of last month, an increase of nearly 21 percent compared to March 2013 and marking the sixth month of year-over-year increases. Condo and townhouse listings jumped more than 30 percent, however, single-family home listings rose just 12 percent.
The increase in active listings was because more new listings came on the market last month than in the past eight months. The 6,042 new listings were a 3.9 percent increase from March 2013 and a 37.5 percent increase from February. Nearly 260 new listings were condos. That property segment was up almost 19 percent from March 2013.
Home prices are continuing to climb, too. As prices and mortgage rates rise, it becomes tougher for first-time home buyers. But higher prices also help homeowners who have negative equity and make it more likely they will be able to sell their homes.
The median sale price for the D.C. metro region was $389,900 last month, its highest level for the month of March in seven years. The median sale price for the region has experienced year-over-year increases for more than two years now.
Homes in Prince George’s County continue to show the biggest gains in median sale price in the region. The county has enjoyed double-digit percentage increases for more than a year now. At $209,700, Price George’s median sale price is at its highest level since fall 2009. Falls Church, Fairfax city and Howard County also had double-digit percentage increases in median sale prices. Alexandria and Loudoun County were the only jurisdictions to have a year-over-year decrease in median sales prices last month.