The Washington Post

November home sales in Washington DC region were better than expected

The Washington region experienced stronger than anticipated sales in November, but the sluggishness in new contracts could indicate that demand is waning in the market, according to a report released Monday by RealEstate Business Intelligence and the GMU Center for Regional Analysis.

There were 3,556 homes sold in the Washington area in November, a 21.5 percent increase compared to November 2011. That represented the largest year-over-year gain since May 2010. Townhome sales showed the most growth, up 31.4 percent. Condo sales were up 22 percent, while single-family home sales rose 16.2 percent. All three property types registered their highest November sales in three years.

Although those sales figures indicate that the end-of-year slowdown has come later than usual this year, it has come. There were only 3,732 contracts written last month, which was down 16.3 percent compared to October and down 1.3 percent compared to November 2011.  

It is not just the season that is causing the market to stall. Active listings of properties for sale fell below 8,000 for the first time in more than seven years last month and are at their lowest level in more than a decade. There were 7,830 active listings in the Washington metro region last month, a year-over-year decrease of 37.8 percent. The inventory of homes for sale is now about one-third of its peak, which was more than 25,000 in fall 2007. All property types had their lowest new listings in more than a decade.

With the number of homes for sale continuing to plummet to decade-low levels, the low inventory is putting upward pressure on median sales prices. The median home price in the Washington region climbed to $370,000 in November, which is 10.4 percent higher than a year ago last month and the highest median price for November in five years.  

Housing Trends for the Washington Metro Area

Nov. 2012 %MOM Oct. 2012 %YOY Nov. 2011
Units sold 3,556 8.8% 3,269 21.5% 2,926
Median sales price $370,000 2.1% $362,500 10.4% $335,000
Pending sales 3,732 -16.3% 4,459 -1.3% 3,781
Active listings 7,830 -10.7% 8,766 -37.8% 12,582
New listings 3,428 -25.3% 4,588 -7.7% 3,712
Median DOM 22 -4.3% 23 -50% 44
Listing discount 3.4% 4% 6.3%
Average SP to OLP ratio 96.6% 96% 93.7%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

Falls Church recorded the biggest median price gain at 40.7 percent from November 2011, but the report cautioned that median prices in that city are more volatile because of the low number of homes sold. All D.C. metro jurisdictions experienced median price gains, except for Alexandria. That city’s median price declined 3.5 percent compared to November 2011.  

November Median Sales Price by Jurisdiction

2012 2011 YoY
DC Metro $370,000 $335,000 10.4%
Falls Church $570,000 $405,000 40.7%
Arlington $510,000 $486,000 4.9%
Alexandria $431,000 $446,500 -3.5%
Washington $450,000 $395,000 13.9%
Fairfax $425,000 $390,000 9%
Fairfax City $386,500 $383,150 0.9%
Montgomery $364,875 $350,000 4.3%
Pr. George’s $177,500 $163,400 8.6%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

Townhomes gained the most in median price, rising 31.4 percent. That growth was the highest for that property type in seven years. The median price for condos was up 10.7 percent, while single-family homes median prices climbed 10 percent.

Year to Date Median Sales Price by Jurisdiction

2012 2011 YoY
DC Metro $365,000 $340,000 7.4%
Falls Church $560,000 $534,200 4.8%
Arlington $509,900 $490,000 4.1%
Alexandria $455,000 $426,000 6.8%
Washington $430,000 $399,000 7.8%
Fairfax $422,700 $400,000 5.7%
Fairfax City $425,000 $398,000 6.8%
Montgomery $369,000 $350,000 5.4%
Pr. George’s $170,000 $160,000 6.3%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence


Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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