Northeast and Southeast Washington have joined the real estate festivities.
The two eastern quadrants of the District had mostly been wallflowers while Northwest was one big home-buying party. But all that changed in the first half of 1999, housing figures show, with the pace of home sales in Northeast and Southeast showing a much larger increase than the pace in Northwest.
Nonetheless, more houses were sold in more populous Northwest Washington than in Northeast and Southeast combined. In the first seven months of 1999, the figures show, 1,794 sales contracts were ratified for houses in Northwest; 775 were ratified in Northeast, 477 in Southeast and 16 in Southwest.
"The eastern part of the city is seeing the gains Northwest saw last year," said Fred Kendrick, a real estate agent with Pardoe ERA in the District. Kendrick and colleague Peter Clute, also of Pardoe ERA in Washington, compile monthly figures on the District housing market, using numbers from the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors and the area's multiple-listing service. "They're catching up."
So far in 1999, the number of sales contracts ratified in Northeast has been a robust 30 percent ahead of the same period of 1998. In Southeast, the number is 28 percent higher. Northwest Washington, which had an increase of 42 percent from 1997 to 1998, has slowed this year to a 10 percent increase when compared with 1998.
Both June and July sales figures for the District show a slowdown in transactions across the city from the beginning of the year. Agents blame the slowdown on summer as well as on the lack of houses to sell.
"Both far Southeast and far Northeast are increasingly popular," said Norris Dodson, who owns District brokerage Century 21 Dodson with his wife, Helen. "There is visible activity in both those areas, both building and buying," he said.
Dodson mentioned Congress Heights and Hillcrest in Southeast as well as Northeast neighborhoods such as Brookland near Catholic University, Michigan Park, north Michigan Park and Lamond-Riggs as areas where his brokerage has seen increased buying activity. Most of the buyers, he said, were people with family ties or other strong connections to the area.
"Those neighborhoods are often just as desirable as Northwest neighborhoods if measured by the quality of life you can have there," Dodson said. "North Michigan Park in Northeast is a quality neighborhood, the way the homes are maintained, the cleanliness of the alleys."
Capitol Hill sales also contributed to the eastern quadrants' performance, agents say. The area straddles Northeast and Southeast.
Agents say the increased sales figures reflect a renewed optimism in the District caused by the election of Mayor Anthony Williams (D), a healthy economy and the $5,000 federal tax credit for first-time District home buyers.
"People responded to those indicators first in Northwest," Kendrick said. "It took another year for that feeling to catch up [in] the rest of the city."
Year-to-date figures also show another surprising District trend: Increases in condominium and co-op sales have outpaced increases in sales of single-family homes.
"That's unusual," Kendrick said, adding that the trend also could stem from fewer houses for sale.
The year-to-date increase in condo and co-op sales is about 18 percent over 1998, while single-family home sales have increased 13 percent when compared with last year.
East vs. West
The number of housing contracts for D.C.'s eastern quadrants has risen at a faster rate this year than the number in western areas.
Percent change in contracts
January-July 1998 to January-July 1999
SOURCE: Fred Kendrick, Pardoe Real Estate; data from MRIS