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What’s hot in Montgomery and Prince George’s real estate

In Mount Rainier in Prince George’s County the median days on the market dropped 29 percent during the first half of the year. (Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post)

Tim Savoy, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dupont Circle, writes an occasional column about the Washington area housing market.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a house in Prince George’s or Montgomery counties, the good news is that both places are steadily improving in the data that experts track to determine the health of the real estate market.

Harder hit in the recession, Prince George’s this year is seeing demand spike. Several communities in the county are showing impressive across-the-board gains. Some of the lower-priced areas of Montgomery are also experiencing gains, demonstrating that buyers in suburban Maryland are looking for bargains.

While it’s taking a bit longer to sell a house in Montgomery, it still is one of the best places in the region for sellers to get a higher percentage of their asking price.

Here is just a snapshot of the Maryland real estate market summed up by four real estate indicators:

• Average sales price

Defined: the price at which a property sells

Overall, Prince George’s County is up in average sales price just about 0.5 percent year over year from 2014 to about $245,626. Montgomery County has seen slightly more growth year over year, with a 1.5 percent overall increase so far this year in average sales price to $529,014.

The biggest gains seen in the average sales price of a home halfway through 2015 are Greenbelt (up 32 percent), Oxon Hill (27.5 percent) and Glenn Dale (20.3 percent). However, the highest sales prices in Maryland, not surprisingly, are in Montgomery County’s Chevy Chase (average sales price $1.04 million), Potomac ($947,247) and Bethesda ($935,660).

What’s most impressive in the data is that while parts of Prince George’s show stagnated growth, pockets of the county are clearly accelerating faster.

• Days on market

Defined: The number of days a property takes to go from active on the market to under contract

In Prince George’s County, median days on market are down 14.3 percent (18 days) year over year, and the average days on market are also down 8.7 percent (42 days). In Montgomery County, we see slightly the opposite with median days on market up 13.3 percent (17 days) and average days on market up 7.9 percent (41 days).

The biggest drop in median days on market in Prince George’s occurred in Clinton (down 31 percent, from 42 to 29 days), Mount Rainier (down 29 percent, from 14 to 10 days) and Capitol Heights (down 24 percent, from 33 to 25 days). In Montgomery, the biggest drop occurred in Barnesville and Cabin John, with homes selling a median 10 days after going on the market.

• Average price per square foot

Defined: The sales price of a property divided by its total livable square footage

Price per square foot is still the highest in Montgomery County with Chevy Chase ($518 per square foot), Garrett Park ($493 per square foot) and Bethesda ($434 per square foot) reigning above the rest. However, overall, price per square foot is growing faster in Prince George’s than in Montgomery.

Prince George’s is now seeing large gains in areas such as Brentwood (up 21.6 percent to $180 per square foot) and Mount Rainier (up 20 percent to $226 per square foot). These gains show that pockets of Prince George’s are drawing more homeowners looking for a larger home at a lower price.

• Sales to list price ratio

Defined: The ratio of the price a property sells for compared to its original market list price

It’s good to wrap up by looking at the sales to list price ratio because it shows how close to the asking price a home is sold for. Whereas the District has the stereotype of often going over the listed price in intense bidding wars, the days on market increase throughout Maryland can often lead to a decrease in the sales price to list price ratio (SPLP ratio).

Montgomery generally sees a fairly high SPLP ratio, but the clear standouts in 2015 so far have been Cabin John and Takoma Park, coming out on top with the average SPLP ratio of 99 percent or above.

In Prince George’s, Lanthan, Hyattsville, Brentwood and Oxon Hill all have SPLP ratio of 99 percent or higher. However, the biggest gainers in this indicator across Maryland are Glenn Dale in Prince George’s, with a 4.3 percent increase to 96.2 percent SPLP ratio, and Takoma Park in Montgomery, with a 2.1 percent increase to 99.2 percent SPLP ratio.

So, what does this all mean?

Maryland has shown us very conservative growth in terms of sales price six months into 2015. Montgomery County still is strong in average prices and days on the market, but has seen decreases in both these areas as prices have reached their highest in Bethesda, Potomac and Chevy Chase.

Prince George’s County has shown small price gains but is growing fastest in the speed at which a house sells, a clear indicator for future success.

Overall, small pockets of winners can be seen with Takoma Park, Glenn Dale and Mount Rainier showing promise as we head into the second half of 2015.

Catch up on Tim Savoy’s previous columns:

RoomScan app lets you create a floor plan in no time

Five handy apps to help you buy, rent or renovate a home

Five ways millennial renters can become landlords

Tim Savoy can be reached at 202-400-0534 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @SavoyRealEstate.