Home values in the Washington metro area decreased just slightly, by 0.1 percent, in March from February, according to real estate database Zillow, which means home values are back to April 2004 levels. The median home value in Washington is now $301,900.
“Washington will enter a prolonged period of a bottom with fairly tepid home value appreciation rates,” said Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries.
Here are a few data gems from Zillow’s report:
● Try to buy if you can: Washington metro’s rents rose 5.9 percent year-over-year in March while home values fell 0.2 percent over the same time period.
●Fewer sellers are in dire straits: One third (30.2 percent) of homes in the region sold for a loss, down from last month’s 32.3 percent. The Washington area has a very low foreclosure rate, at 4 per 10,000 homes. (The national average is 7.4).
●For more bang for your buck, look farther from central D.C.: The biggest, cheapest houses are far from the District. Nearby areas like Chevy Chase, Somerset, Brookmont and Arlington all have some of the highest home values per square foot — above $400. But if you’re willing to commute from Partlow, Va., or Brunswick, Md., you can pay under $100.
●An unexpected gain: The Plains, Va., a town west of Gainesville, had the highest year-over-year price increase, at 20 percent. However, home values there are still below the median, at $291,900.
●The recession has been soft on rich areas: D.C. metro area homes have overall declined almost 30 percent in price during the recession, but more expensive homes, “have had a better ride than less expensive homes,” Humphries. That is to say, they’ve remained expensive.