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 Washington Real Estate Monthly Muse | by Nate Ward

A concise synopsis of the Washington DC real estate market 


New Company! New Website!

I'm proud to announce the formation of Capital Park Realty! I founded the company with long time business partner and college classmate Ben Puchalski. Our entire staff also made the transition and we're excited about the many new offerings we'll be rolling out in the coming months. We started the brokerage to better serve our community and clients and to more easily interact with our friends, family, and associates. Please check out new website: http://www.cparkre.com You'll find links a the top of our homepage to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube as well as the latest from our blog. We're working hard to improve the website and add content all the time so please check back often!

Buzz around the office

Every real estate markets experiences seasonal trends. Typically, November through February are the slowest months of the year for real estate agents. It's usually the time of year we take a breather, spend some extra time with family and friends, and organize the office. This Winter, Washington DC real estate sales trended downward only slightly.  Many sectors of our market continued to stay hot right through the holidays. The natural question is: What's sparking all the activity during a historically slow time of year?

There are plenty factors pushing buyers off the sidelines and into the DC market. Many people are worried they've missed the bottom of the market; depending on their price point, chances are they have definitely missed the bottom.  Many buyers decided to make a purchase to take advantage of sub four percent interest rates, while others have grown tired of mailing big checks to their landlord in the Washington's pricey rental market. Right now if you have the means to make a purchase it's often substantially cheaper than renting a similar property; especially when you factor in the potential tax benefits. 

On the seller's side of the equation, the power balance has definitely tipped in their favor. Properties that would have seen little to no interest only a year ago are often attracting multiple offers in today's market. Additionally, the foreclosure moratorium that continues to tie up much of the distressed property in the city has further constricted supply. Our office lists a number of bank owned properties (REO Properties) every year in DC, VA, and MD. The "forclosure freeze" here in DC has brought REO business in the District to a virtual stand still. Pend sales in the Nation's Capital are up and active listings are down.  With buyers snatching up any decent listing and distressed properties not turning over, housing supply is definitely tight. There were 27 percent FEWER homes for sale in DC THIS January compared to the same time in 2011.

Local Business Spotlight

St. Arnold's On Jefferson has the best mussels in all of Washington DC!  The pub is easily missed but worth searching for. Jefferson Place NW is a sleepy block wedged between Connecticut Avenue and 19th Street just South of Dupont Circle. They feature a substantial Belgian beer selection and one of the liveliest happy hours in the entire city. Named after the Patron Saint of Brewing, St. Arnold was said to have performed, "numerous miracles involving the multiplying of beer." That sounds like my kind of Saint!  He also believed that the shared consumption of quality food and beer was good for the soul and built a sense of community. What a smart guy!

It's a small subterranean joint, so if you decide to stop in during happy hour you should expect a crowd and may need to wait a few minutes for a table.  That said, it doesn't take long to have a drink in your hand and the bar staff is super friendly and informative. The bartenders will guide you through the selection if you're unfamiliar with Belgian Beer and they freely offer samples.  They have a simple pub style menu with many authentic dishes but without a doubt the main attraction is the mussels! They're served in medium sized cast iron kettle with a side of sweet potato fries and bread to mop up the extra sauce. You have to be careful not to burn yourself on the kettle but serving concept is genius; the cast iron stays hot way longer than your typical serving dish.  I highly recommend the spicy Thai mussels or the mussels in garlic and white wine.  You also can't go wrong with the house special featuring creamy beer and duck fat!  Check out their website at http://starnoldsmusselbar.com/

Washington DC Real Estate Trend Indicators

Pending sales in January 2012 were up 8.3 percent over January 2011. The time properties sat on the market fell 5 days over last January, with the current average at 77 days on market. There were 1619 active listings in Washington DC in January 2012 which is down from 2236 active listings at this time last year.  A total of 385 properties sold in January 2012 which is down slightly compared to 390 sales in January 2011. Average sales price this January was $527k which is $49k higher than last year’s January sales price average.  The average sales price to original list price was 93.7 percent in January 2012. That's down slightly from a sales price to original list price of 92.5 percent in January 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 3.89 percent this February. Lower interest rates have made home loans more affordable than ever.  That said, buyers are currently facing the lowest supply of active listings since the housing crash. The high demand and low supply is good news for real estate values in one of the strongest estate markets in the country.

Featured Listing

Typically we save this paragraph for a new listing. This month, we're going to mix is up instead!  Please check out our featured neighborhood!

Forest Hills: Quiet and peaceful yet still extremely close to all the amenities Washington DC has to offer, Forest Hills is one of the most exclusive and beautiful DC neighborhoods you've never heard of. The area is often incorrectly referred to as Van Ness because of its proximity to the Van Ness metro and UDC campus of the same name. Forest Hills is tucked between the rush of Connecticut Avenue and sleepy Rock Creek Park. The neighborhood...

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

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