According to the report, median home prices were up at least 10 percent during the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 in 79 percent of counties nationwide. Even historically low mortgage rates couldn’t offset those rising prices in many locations, reducing affordability for average wage earners.
However, in Montgomery County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va., two counties with a population of at least 1 million, home prices in the fourth quarter of 2020 rose at below-average rates during a 12-month period. In Fairfax County, prices rose just 3 percent and in Montgomery County, prices increased 8 percent, according to ATTOM.
Both counties saw an increase in home affordability compared to their historic average during the fourth quarter of 2020 because of the slower rate of price increases. But that’s not to say that either county offers “affordable” housing: The median sales price in Fairfax County was $570,000 and the median sales price in Montgomery County was $490,000 in November, according to Bright MLS.
Other jurisdictions in the D.C. region were less affordable in 2020 compared to 2019 because of the gap between wages and rising prices.
“One of the effects of covid-19 has been the resurgence of the outer suburbs, Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore,” said Corey Burr, a senior vice present at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington. “Fairfax and Montgomery counties, being close to D.C., haven’t participated in this phenomenon of buyers pushing out from the city.”
In addition, Burr said, more younger buyers entered the housing market in 2020, targeting less expensive counties than Montgomery and Fairfax, which are two of the most expensive counties in the region.
“Fairfax and Montgomery counties weathered the downturn in the market from 2008 to 2015 quite well compared to many similar-size counties around the country,” Burr said. “As the real estate market enters the final stages of the current eight-year uptrend, those counties that saw bigger drops during the correction are catching up, especially those areas that are less affected by the limits on state and local tax write-offs that began early in the Trump administration.”
Burr said that if the Biden administration reverses the SALT restrictions, which limited state and local tax deductions to $10,000 on itemized federal income tax returns, that should bode well for Fairfax and Montgomery counties, since many homes in those counties have property taxes above the $10,000 limit.
To see the full report from ATTOM, click here.
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