Metro DC Housing Analysis Overview 2010 12

Metro DC Existing Home Sales Activity In December Stronger than Expected  

January 10, 2010                                                                                              

For immediate release                                                                  Contact:  Rosemary deButts, REALTOR, MIRM


(Washington, DC) – Following the usual pattern, preliminary total unit sales improved 5 percent in December compared to revised November totals across the Washington, DC metro area.  The increase followed seasonal monthly declines from July to November.  Prince George’s County posted the largest percentage increase (+13 percent) while sales in the District declined 6 percent from November.                                                                                                                                                                      

Preliminary year-to-date sales in the metro area totaled 55,814 units in 2010, 5 percent below the total in 2009.  The largest annual decline was in PWAR (-13 percent) and the largest percentage increase was in the District (+3 percent).  Annual sales totals were essentially unchanged from 2009 in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties (10,300 and 6,900 units respectively).                                                                   

Every month this year the median sales price for existing home sales in the DC area exceeded the median in the corresponding month in 2009.  Preliminary December results ($325,000) showed a slight 2 percent decrease from the revised November median.  The median sales price advanced $45,000 since January (+16 percent).  The year-to-date median sales price remained at $325,000 in December, 5 percent higher than the 2009 median.  All but two of the core Realtor associations in the metro area reported a month-over-month decrease in December’s median sales price with the exceptions of NVAR (+1.3 percent) and Montgomery County (+.8 percent).  The largest decrease was in PWAR (-6 percent).  Compared to December 2009, Prince George’s County had the only decline in its median sales price (-13 percent) while Montgomery County recorded the largest percentage increase, +12 percent.                                                                                                        

According to Virginia-based real estate consultant Rosemary deButts, “December’s existing home sales activity was a pleasant surprise after sharper than expected monthly declines following the expiration of the First Time Buyer’s Credit.  However, the resiliency of median sales prices during 2010 was the big story.”                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Because it is not unusual for the days on market indicators to rise as temperatures fall, the 9 percent increase in December was not unexpected.  For perspective, compare the average in December 2010 of 71 days to 84 days (Dec ’06), 102 days (Dec ’07), and 99 days (Dec ’08).  In fact, Prince George’s County’s average declined 18 percent in December compared to last December (89 vs. 108 days).                                              

The average close price to original list price ratio may reflect two things: sellers’ ability to accurately price their homes to match market conditions and/or their willingness to negotiate price.  Until recently (October), the 2010 ratio outperformed 2009 results but it fell to 93 percent in December with the highest ratio found in PWAR (96.1 percent) and the lowest found in Prince George’s (90.4 percent).  The lowest ratio throughout the region in the last four years occurred in February 2009 (89.8 percent).                                 

The average close price for detached homes in the metro area was $498,614 in December; it was $336,845 for attached homes and $275,531 for condominiums.  The highest prices are characteristically found in the District of Columbia for all three house types and the lowest prices can usually be found in Prince George’s County.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The share of distressed sales (short sales and foreclosures) increased slightly to 33 percent in December but was 20 percent below the percentage of total distressed sales in December 2009.  Following the usual pattern, Washington, DC had the lowest share of distressed sales (16 percent) while Prince George’s had the highest share (63 percent).                                                                                                                               

Rosemary deButts further commented, “It is heartening to see the capital’s market post a strong December in advance of the upcoming winter months (i.e., the slow season).  We can only hope that the First Time Buyer’s Credit hangover was cured earlier than expected and that in 2011 we will enjoy a “normal” market in metro DC (one that is typically stronger than other large cities in the country).”  ###       

Rosemary deButts is a consultant in the home building industry and a REALTOR® associated with 1757 Real Estate Company in Leesburg, Virginia.  She serves as the housing analyst for the Virginia Association of REALTORS®. Rosemary is certified by the National Association of REALTORS® as a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource.  With a long career in the housing industry, she is also a Member, Institute of Residential Marketing (MIRM), a prestigious new homes marketing designation issued by the National Association of Home Builders.                                                                                                                                                                                                            


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