Washington Real Estate Monthly Muse | by Nate Ward
A concise synopsis of the Washington DC real estate market
Buzz around the office
Fall is traditionally a slower time of year for real estate. Sales peak in late Spring and Summer when it’s easiest for families to move without uprooting their children from school. June, July, and August have been the busiest real estate months by volume every year since 2000. This Fall the combination of increased closed and pending sales and fewer active listings leads me to believe we’re entering the Fall buying season on solid footing. Additionally, the Washington DC housing market continues to outpace the rest of the country - AKA people want to live here! Why wouldn’t they? The nation’s capital has a very stable local economy with low unemployment, arguably the largest variety of cultural and entertainment options of any city in North America, a modern transportation system that is expanding every month, and did I mention that there is tons of FREE stuff to do in and around Washington DC!!! The most recent Case-Shiller Housing Index shows the DC Metro as one of only two major metropolitan cities where prices rose year over year in 2011; surprisingly, the other city was Detroit. Maybe home prices have finally bottomed out in Motor City?
Despite being a wonderful place to live, buying and selling real estate in DC is certainly not all beer and skittles. Banks continue to slog their way out of the mortgage meltdown as they push to both make quality loans to new buyers and unburden themselves from an increasing backlog of distressed properties. Lenders have yet to strike the balance between prudent due diligence and overbearing intrusiveness; after having their hand slapped yet again by the Feds for the “robo-signing” scandal I wouldn’t expect the loan process to be short and easy any time in the near future. If you’re thinking of buying a home, save yourself some time and have a chat with a realtor familiar with the mortgage market before you actually start shopping. You should rest easy knowing that qualified buyers are currently locking in at some historically low rates.
Everywhere you look in and around the District new homes, condos, and businesses are being built or renovated in attempts keep up with demand. Another factor limiting the supply side is that a significant number of future sales are currently on hold because of the “foreclosure freeze” here in DC. Long story short, the vast majority of DC home owners facing foreclosure were given a moratorium while the robo-signing mess was sorted out. As of late, the paperwork issues at the foreclosing bank’s end seem to have finally been sorted through. The moratorium has meant that delinquent home owners ended up with quite a bit of extra time between the typical default date and foreclosure date timeline. If history is a lesson to us, we can assume the vast majority of owners who are 30 or more days delinquent will attempt negotiate a short sale with their lender or lose their house to foreclosure. Buying or selling a short sale of foreclosure is a complex process and I’d highly encourage potential buyers or sellers to consult a real estate professional.
Local Business Spotlight
Thai-X-ing is awesome. Typically when I’m describing a restaurant, I use superlatives like “delicious” or “authentic.” In this case, I can unequivocally say that Thai-X-ing is hands-down the best Thai food I’ve ever had. If you live in the Ledroit Park or Shaw neighborhoods I guaranteed you’ve walked by the place a hundred times and never noticed it. There is only a small hand painted sign hidden behind some vines to mark the 515 Florida Ave NW location. That said, the place is ALWAYS packed. They’re only open for dinner and if you’re looking to get reservations or Friday or Saturday night they recommend calling at least two days in advance. The restaurant doesn’t feel like a commercial space since it’s situated in a quaint row house. The food is served family style and the menu is fixed based on whatever the chef finds to be freshest at the market on any given day. FYI the restaurant is “bring your own beer” (or wine) which means that your incredible meal will also be affordable! I had the pumpkin curry last week and it was “knock-your-date-out-of-the-way-to-get-the-last-serving” delicious! They have a very basic website at http://www.thaix-ing.com/ and you can make reservations by phone: 202-332-4322.
Washington DC Real Estate Trend Indicators
Pending sales in August 2011 were up 11.4 percent over August 2010. The time properties sat on the market rose 13 days over last August, with the current average at 70 days on market. There were 2055 active listings in Washington DC in August 2011 which is down from 2543 active listings at this time last year. A total of 564 of active listings went under contract in August 2011. Median sales price this May was $400k which is dead even with last year’s May sales price median.
Mortgage Rate News
Mortgage rates are at historically low numbers. Rates were stable from February to May but have trended downward every month from May to September. The average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage was 4.11% in September 2011. The lower rates have made home loans more affordable than ever but buyers are currently facing the lowest supply of active listings in over two years. This is good news for real estate values in what is already one of the best real estate markets in the country.
When you think of quintessential Washington DC you’ll likely conjure up images of the National Mall. This Penn Quarter condo features views of some of the most iconic streets and sights in the city. Invite your friends over for a view of the Washington Monument and then watch the inaugural parade without ever leaving your condo! Take a quick trip to the rooftop and you can point out the Capitol Building! When you do decide to venture out you’ll find a fantastic “walkable lifestyle” waiting for you. The nightlife of Chinatown, the historic streets of Capital Hill, and some of the best museums and exhibits in the entire city are all within walking distance. If you want to mix it up and visit other areas of the city, the metro is only one block away! Check it out for yourself: (link no longer active)
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