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DC Real Estate Monthly Muse | by Nate Ward

A concise synopsis of the Washington DC Real Estate Market 

Buzz Around The Office

The number of available homes for sale in DC is down. WAY down. In fact, June housing inventory is off 33 percent from this time last year and is at its lowest point since the height of the real estate boom in 2005. The Summer real estate market is off to a hot start as more buyers are competing for the smallest supply of listings in years. As a realtor working to connect buyers and sellers, finding a property that matches the buyer's expectations and budget is becoming more and more challenging. It is officially a seller's market. On the supply side, development projects in the Nation's Capital continue to blossom as the city's urban renewal gains momentum. 

On a pragmatic level, DC is steadily becoming a more pleasant and accessible place to live. The process of urban renewal in the Nation's Capital has become a self fueling engine. The city's build out of the metro and bus systems along with the wild success of the Capital Bikeshare Program has created a more accessible and useful public transportation system in DC and beyond. As demographics continue to shift, baby boomers are downsizing while more young professionals are putting off the idea of a white picket fence in the suburbs. Both of these trends are creating more demand for a "walkable lifestyle" and DC is here to deliver. As more people seek convenient access to their job and their social life, they're putting upward pressure on real estate values in the District. Rising home prices spur the renovation of residential spaces in and around the city. As more people move back into the Nation's Capital, it inevitably leads to increased demand for local businesses and services. The demand encourages the revitalization of commercial corridors and supports a broader base of cultural, dining, and retails options. In a basic sense, more people equals a more vibrant and eclectic city. As DC continues to become a more interesting and convenient place to live, it in turn seems to be attracting more people. It's a virtuous cycle!

An additional factor fueling buyer demand is crazy low interest rates.  The average commitment rate on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 3.80 percent in May.  When you consider that inflation rates have historically floated between 3-4 percent (with some spikes here and there), buyers are more or less borrowing at an effective interest rate of zero. Considering that there are also plenty of tax benefits to home ownership as well, buying real estate makes a lot of sense in today's market.

Local Business Spotlight

If you're looking for a healthy delicious meal with a vegan twist, try Everlasting Life Cafe at 2928 Georgia Avenue NW in Petworth.  The hip and friendly restaurant serves up generous portions of soul food in a laid back cafeteria style eatery. Since I'm the skeptical type, I went ahead and ordered the Philly cheese "steak" and a couple sides from their deli style raw salad bar. I have to admit it: the sandwich blew my mind. I had no idea vegan food could taste so good! Their sides were equally tasty and reasonably priced. I'm not a vegetarian and I have to no plans to convert, but their menu is certainly a compelling reason to eat a little healthier. Everlasting Life Cafe also features a juice bar with an extensive list of shakes and smoothies and also baked goods and soy cream (their alternative to the good old fashion soft serve) for dessert. They also host local music events and push a very green social agenda. There are certainly other spots in Petworth serving soul food, but Everlasting Life Cafe is truly a unique experience.   

Washington DC Real Estate Trend Indicators

Median sales price this April was $449k which is up 12.5 percent from last April's median sales price. The average sales price to original list price was 96 percent in April 2012. That's up slightly from a sales price to original list price ratio of 93.6 percent in April 2011. Pending sales in April 2012 were up 5.9 percent over April 2011. The time properties sat on the market fell 2 days over last April, with the current average at 81 days on market. There were 1,662 active listings in Washington DC in April 2012 which is down 33 percent from the number of listings on the market at this time last year. A total of 571 properties sold in April 2012 which is up 6.9 percent over April 2011. If you're interested in additional information, please check out our partner's monthly video update:

Mortgage Rate News

Mortgage rates are at historically low numbers. Rates have dropped every month since April of 2011 when the average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage was 4.84 percent. The average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage was 3.80 percent this May. The low interest rates have made owning a home more affordable than ever. If you're one of the lucky buyers who can lock up a reasonably priced home, your inflation adjusted interest rate is approaching zero! Continued strong demand in the DC area and a low supply of listings will likely continue to push up prices in the foreseeable future.

Featured Neighborhood

Petworth is one of the largest neighborhoods in Northwest Washington DC and is an area undergoing tremendous revitalization. The majority of Petworth is characterized by tree lined streets and brick row homes that...

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To contact the author directly, please email nate@cparkre.com or call 202.997.1421

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