The Washington Post

Washington DC area housing market shows yearly growth but monthly decline

Compared to a year ago, the Washington area housing market appears healthy. Compared to a month ago, it might be weakening.

RealEstate Business Intelligence and the GMU Center for Regional Analysis’s monthly report on the region’s housing market released on Thursday showed that although sales and median prices were up last month compared to December 2011, those numbers declined from November to December.  

There were 3,323 homes sold in the Washington metro area in December, a year-over-year increase of 4.9 percent but a 6.6 percent decrease from November. The slow-down could have been a byproduct of the uncertainty over the fiscal cliff. Or it could be a sign that demand is waning. Or it might be that because the number of homes for sale is at historic lows buyers aren’t finding anything they want to purchase.

Whatever the reason, last month’s slowdown in sales was evident across all property types — condos, townhouses and single-family detached homes.  

Housing Trends for the Washington Metro Area

Dec. 2012 %MOM Nov. 2012 %YOY Dec. 2011
Units sold 3,323 -6.6% 3,556 4.9% 3,169
Median sales price $359,000 -3% $370,000 10.5% $325,000
Pending sales 3,097 -17% 3,732 -4.7% 3,250
Active listings 6,466 -17.4% 7,830 -39.5% 10,684
New listings 2,465 -28.1% 3,428 -9.1% 2,712
Avg. DOM 61 15.1% 53 -27.4% 84
Listing discount 3.7% 3.4% 7%
Avg. SP to OLP ratio 96.3% 96.6% 93%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

The median home price in the Washington area rose to $359,000, the third consecutive month the median price has experienced double-digit year-over-year growth. However, compared to November, the median price dropped 3 percent.

Single-family detached homes showed the largest year-over-year gain, climbing 12.9 percent compared to December 2011 — the biggest growth for this property type in seven years. Condos had a 10.4 percent increase in median price, while townhouse prices rose 8.3 percent.

December Median Sales Price by Jurisdiction

2012 2011 YoY
DC Metro $359,000 $325,000 10.5%
Falls Church $667,500 $529,450 26.1%
Arlington $475,000 $475,000 0%
Alexandria $469,900 $440,000 6.8%
District $455,000 $414,000 9.9%
Fairfax $419,000 $387,000 8.3%
Fairfax City $463,500 $427,500 8.4%
Montgomery $360,000 $335,000 7.5%
Pr. George’s $180,000 $160,000 12.5%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

Fewer new contracts were signed last month compared to December 2011, falling 4.7 percent year-over-year and 17 percent month-over-month.

Inventory continues to be scarce, with the number of homes listed for sale in December falling below 7,000. The 6,466 active listings are not only the lowest in seven years but also the lowest on record. There were 4,200 fewer listings last month compared to December 2011.

Yearly Median Sales Price by Jurisdiction

2012 2011 YoY
DC Metro $365,000 $338,500 7.8%
Falls Church $564,500 $525,000 7.5%
Arlington $509,125 $490,000 3.9%
Alexandria $455,000 $430,000 5.8%
District $430,900 $399,000 8%
Fairfax $422,000 $400,000 5.5%
Fairfax City $425,000 $400,000 6.3%
Montgomery $367,125 $350,000 4.9%
Pr. George’s $170,000 $160,000 6.3%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

Only 2,465 new listings came on the market last month, which also was the fewest number of new listings for any month since the data started being tracked in 1997.

Days on the market fell to an average of 21 days, while sale-to-list-price ratio climbed to 96.3 percent.

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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