Washington Real Estate Monthly Muse | by Nate Ward
A concise synopsis of the Washington DC real estate market
Buzz around the office
It is a good time to be buying and selling real estate in Washington DC and the local market continues to write its own story. Housing prices in DC are up and demand continues to be strong. A combination of factors make the local market unique. Housing demand is driven largely by employment and demographics. The most obvious player in the DC jobs market, the US Government, buoys housing demand no matter what is happening in the broader economy. On top of that, technology is also a large employment field locally. The I-66 corridor in Northern Virginia is one of the largest technology sectors outside of Silicon Valley; tech jobs tend to pay well and have largely escaped the economic downturn. A third factor at play here in DC is demographics. Baby boomers are looking to downsize as they approach retirement. Young professionals are marrying later and are more career focused in job-rich urban centers. As both the fuel and time costs of transportation continue to rise, demand to be closer to public transportation and a “walkable lifestyle” trends upward along with prices.
As a full time real agent, I’m frequently seeing multiple offers on any well priced property. I’m also seeing higher prices in areas that may have been consider “marginal” only a few years ago. Real estate developers are taking advantage of this, and inventory for fixer-uppers continues to be very low. Overall, the Washington DC housing market is doing quite well.
Local Business Spotlight
If you live in a major metropolitan area, making the most of your limited space is a must. This month I’d like to highlight a local business that specializes in garden space. Love & Carrots, a locally owned and operated organic gardening business, specializes in home gardening for people who are locally minded. Co-founders Meredith Sheperd and Saren O’Grady started the company with a passion for food and a desire to build on the home-grown gardening movement. Meredith Sheperd has an extensive background in landscaping and design, small organic farming, and environmental science. Saren O'Grady is an accomplished agriculturalist, having just completed one of the country's most prestigious urban farming internships with Will Allen at http://www.growingpower.org/ Love & Carrots specialize in custom designed garden spaces that fit nearly every location and budget. If you own a condo and you’re looking to add some color to your window still or roof deck, these are the people to talk to! I had a great conversation with Meredith this week and she wanted me to mention that they’re also helping people can their own veggies so you can enjoy your harvest year round. As a final note, due to high demand for urban garden space, they are also looking to hire more help. Here is a link to Love & Carrots website: http://www.loveandcarrots.com/default.html
Washington DC Real Estate Trend Indicators
Pending sales in May 2011 were up 43.7 percent over May 2010. The time properties sat on the market rose 8 days over last May, with the current average at 67 days on market. There were 2639 active listings in Washington DC in May 2011 and 730 of those properties went under contract. Median sales price this May was $429k, which is up $44k over last year's May sales price median.
Mortgage Rate News
Mortgage rates came up off their historic lows through the winter. Rates trended upwards through February 2011.The highest average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage was 5.05% on February 10, 2011. As of late, rates have trended downward and the average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage was 4.50 % as of June 23, 2011. The small rise in rates and subsequent fall has spurred many buyers who were on the fence into the market. This is good news for real estate values in what is already one of the best real estate markets in the country.
Urban revitalization is a common theme here in the District and especially in areas with easy access to public transportation. Perhaps no neighborhood better exemplifies that trend more than Columbia Heights. The area is anchored by the newly redeveloped and pedestrian-oriented Tivoli Square and DC USA shopping complex; both of which are just steps from the Columbia Heights Metro Station. The New York Times recently highlighted11th Street in Columbia Heights as the new “hip strip” in Washington DC.
I once referred to this massive four level row house as “the ugliest” row house in Columbia Heights but keep your eyes on this property. It sold last Fall after sitting vacant for years. I was walking down 13th Street NW recently and had a chance to speak with the developer about his plans for the property. Apparently, designs are in the works to restore the once stately row house back to its original grandeur. The remodeled interior will consist of two massive condos featuring lots of original details, exposed brick, private outdoor space, and plenty of parking. Stay tuned for more updates. Here is a look at the “before” listing for your reference:(link no longer active)
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