Tim Savoy, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Dupont/Logan Circle, writes an occasional column about the Washington area housing market.
While the District’s real estate market heated up in 2015, home sales cooled this year for most of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Still, with recession recovery reaching a plateau in parts of Maryland, a few close-in suburbs have emerged as hot spots for development in both counties, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of Rockville-based multiple-listing service MRIS.
Here is a wrap-up of 2015 real estate in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties:
As usual, the average sales price for Montgomery County ($400,000) is higher than that of its neighbor Prince George’s County ($235,000). However, there has been zero percent change in median sales price from 2014 in Montgomery, while there has been a 6.8 percent increase from 2014 in Prince George’s. The reason for this may be that Prince George’s has more room to grow than Montgomery.
The highest median sales price in suburban Maryland can be found in Chevy Chase ($900,000) and Potomac ($849,000), both in Montgomery. However, the biggest gainers in median sales price are found in Prince George’s in Greenbelt (up 33.2 percent this year to $166,500) and Mount Rainier (up 26.5 percent to $315,000). This shows a trend of growth in Prince George’s but a sustained market in Montgomery.
Days on market
While Montgomery saw almost no change in median days on market (MDOM) — or the number of days it takes a property to go from active on the market to under contract — its fastest-paced markets were Takoma Park (about 12 MDOM) and Potomac (about 16 MDOM). As a stark difference, Prince George’s saw large reductions in MDOM with Mount Rainier decreasing its MDOM 33 percent to just 10 days (the lowest in Prince George’s).
The number of days a property stays on a market can sometimes be seen as an indicator for the area’s popularity. The lack of change in Montgomery may show that desirability is slowly moving farther east or even back into the District.
Price per square foot
With more luxury homes, Montgomery reigns king of cities with the highest price per square foot. Chevy Chase ($484) and Bethesda ($403) remained at the top, as with previous years. Moreover, large gains were found in Prince George’s with Greenbelt’s price per square foot up 25.7 percent to $142 and Mount Rainier’s up the same amount to $230.
Finally, the sales-to-list-price ratio denotes how desirable the home values are, comparing the price the buyer pays for the home in comparison to the seller’s listed value.
There were no big gains in the ratio in 2015 in either county. Capitol Heights in Prince George’s was the biggest gainer with only a 2.8 percent increase in the ratio (though bringing the total to only 97.2 percent ratio). However, the traditional border cities such as Takoma Park in Montgomery (98.9 ratio) and Hyattsville in Prince George’s (98.7 ratio) remained as the highest ratios in the area.
What does this mean for 2016?
With a lot of activity being focused in the District, 2016 will be an interesting time for Montgomery and Prince George’s real estate. Despite the growth trend from 2013 to 2015, the area may see a much more stagnant 2016 compared with the surge in the District.
Moreover, these areas may capitalize on the rising prices in the city. And while closer D.C. suburbs have traditionally done better than locations outside the Beltway, we may see some growth farther out from D.C. because of this rise in average home prices.
Catch up on Tim’s previous columns:
Tim Savoy can be reached at Timothy.Savoy@cbmove.com.