Year-over-year home sales up across metro region

This home in the 800 block of Sherlin Lane in Great Falls currently is on the market, listed at $1,249,000 by Dianne Van Volkenburg of Long & Foster Real Estate ((c) BTW Images)

Year-over-year existing-home sales across the Washington inner core reversed two months of losses with a slight improvement in July, standing at the highest total for that month in a decade.

A total of 5,282 properties went to closing across the Washington region last month, an increase of 1.1 percent from a year before, according to sales data reported Aug. 13 by MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS. 

Figures represent sales in the District of Columbia; Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church in Virginia; and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

July’s sales total was lower than that of June, but that is the norm in the regional home-sales market. In terms of year-over-year sales, the overall regional growth was fueled by increases in two large jurisdictions – Montgomery County (up 8.1 percent from a year before) and Fairfax County (up 6.5 percent). Prince George’s County sales were flat, and all other metro-area jurisdictions saw declines.

Sales of single-family properties were up 5.7 percent from a year before, while sales of attached homes (such as townhouses or rowhouses) were down 4.9 percent and sales of condominiums declined 1.2 percent.

July’s closed sales represented an increase of 36 percent from the market trough in 2010, when July’s sales totaled 3,882. The 10-year sales average for July is 4,743.

For the first seven months of the year, completed home sales in the region totaled 32,788, down 0.3 percent from the same period in 2018.

The median sales price of $470,000 across the region in July was down from June’s all-time record of $490,000, but marked an increase of 3.3 percent from a year before. In year-over-year movement, the median price of condominiums led the pack, rising 4.2 percent to $322,850. The median price of single-family homes rose 1.7 percent to $590,000 (its first increase in three months). Townhome prices were essentially flat at $438,000.

Median sales prices were up in all component jurisdictions across the region except for the cities of Fairfax and Alexandria. Prince George’s County saw the biggest year-over-year increase, up 12.3 percent to $320,000.

“Escalating prices in the District of Columbia, where median sales prices were up 4 percent in July, seem to be having a ripple effect in the surrounding areas, where more people are looking for lower-priced options,” said Chris Finnegan, vice president of marketing and communications of Bright MLS.  “Many are now looking to areas like Prince George’s County.”

For the first seven months of the year, all jurisdictions except the city of Alexandria reported increases in median sales prices. For the region as a whole, the median price of $460,000 for the January-through-July period was up 2.9 percent from the same time frame in 2018.

For much of the year, the region has suffered from low inventory, which has helped to restrain sales while boosting prices. July was no exception: The 7,901 properties on the market were the lowest July inventory in a decade, down 7.1 percent from a year before and less than half the 16,591 homes on the market in July 2010 as the D.C. area continued to dig itself out of the recession.

Inventory was down in every jurisdiction, from a modest 1.3 percent in the District of Columbia to more than 50 percent in Arlington County and the city of Falls Church.

“The ‘Amazon effect’ remains the rule in Northern Virginia, with homeowners holding onto their homes longer and less properties coming on the market,” Finnegan said.  “Those homeowners who are deciding to sell their homes are pricing them premium, as median list prices in Arlington County are up 44.6 percent over last year.”

Condo inventories were most constrained among the three sectors of the market, showing a year-over-year inventory decline of 30 percent compared to 13 percent for single-family homes and 16 percent for townhouses.

Sellers whose homes went to closing in July garnered an average 99.1 percent of original listing price, the highest rate in a decade. Three communities – Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church – saw sales prices at more than 100 percent of listing prices.

(For the year to date, the ratio of sales price to listing price across the region is 98.8 percent, up slightly from 98.5 percent last year.)

Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All figures are preliminary, and are subject to revision. For information, see the Website at www.brightmlshomes.com.

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