Washington Real Estate Monthly Muse | by Nate Ward
A concise synopsis of the Washington DC real estate market
Buzz around the office
Real estate activity typically picks up some after the New Year, and this year has been no different. What has been different is the fervor at which buyers have been making their way back into the market. We have seen multiple offers on more than a few listings in the office. I track the number of click-throughs for my listings online and activity is up almost four-fold from what is was over the holiday season! As the economy continues to slowly climb out of recession,Washington DC remains ahead of the curve due to strong job growth and major public and private investment in suburban real estate.
Obviously DC’s job market benefits from steady government employment and government related contracts, but there is another factor driving real estate values in the nation’s capital - demographics. The baby boomers and their children are looking for places to live and work that reflect their current desires and needs. Boomers are downsizing and their children are setting out in their careers. Both of these huge demographic groups want something that the U.S.housing market has in short supply: small one to three bedroom homes in walkable, transit-oriented, economic and socially dynamic job-rich neighborhoods. Ten years ago the highest values per square foot were in car-dependent suburbs like Great Falls,Virginia. Today, walkable city neighborhoods like Dupont Circle,Woodley Park, and Capital Hill command the highest per-square-foot prices, followed by the dense suburban neighborhoods with metro stops in places like Bethesda Maryland, Arlington Virginia. I wholeheartedly expect this trend to continue both here in DC and in other cities across the country in coming years.
Local Business Spotlight
You will be hard pressed to find a locally owned and operated bakery in DC with more history than Heller’s Bakery in Mount Pleasant. They’ve been dreaming up delicious baked goods since 1922. A landmark in the neighborhood, it’s been a morning gathering spot for generations. Everything on the menu is delectable. Most days, you’ll smell the bakery before you see it. Upon entering, you’ll find a cozy atmosphere and plenty of indoor seating. They also set up tables outside when weather permits. On Spring through Fall Saturdays, you can also hit the local farmers market across the street! It’s a fantastic way to spend the morning. Make sure to bring cash for both. Here is a link to Heller’s website: http://www.hellersbakery.com
Washington DC Real Estate Trend Indicators
Pending sales in December 2010 was up 12.6 percent over December 2009. The time properties sat on the market fell 7 days over last December, with the current average at 77 days on market. There were 2753 active listings in Washington DC in December 2010 and 452 of those properties went under contract. Average sales price this November was $559k, which is up $46k over last year's December sales price average.
Mortgage Rate News
Mortgage rates were historically low this past Fall, then trended upwards through Thanksgiving, and have stabilized as of late. The rate on 30 year fixed mortgages fell from 4.83% on December 16th to 4.74% on January 20th. The decrease on mortgage rates translates into a savings of $5.44 per month for every $100k you borrow over the life of the loan. The decrease in rates means that buyers will pay slightly less to own a home, but it’s not enough to cause any change in buyer activity. Overall, the slightly higher rates over the past few months signal growth in the overall economy. This is good news for real estate values in what is already one of the best real estate markets in the country.
The sleepy park-like Mount Pleasant Neighborhood is one of my favorite areas in the city. It’s bordered on two sides by Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo. Tucked away from the frantic pace of16th Street and the rapidly evolving Columbia Heights, it features large row homes, mature trees, lots of beautiful gardens with gorgeous stone walls. It has a quaintness about it that’s very hard to find in any price range.
This massive three level row house features just about everything you would ever need and lots of features you definitely want. The home has been restored to its original grandeur and includes numerous historical features, completely updated kitchens and baths, outdoor space, off-street parking, an exercise room, a movie theater, and a separate in-law suite. Being a nature lover myself, I am personally taken by its proximity to the zoo; spend enough time on the front porch, and I guarantee you’ll hear monkeys many summer mornings and even the lion on rare occasions! The sound he makes is unmistakable! Check it out:(link no longer active)
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