Reishman Report: D.C. Real Estate Inventory Increases

September saw a jump in real estate inventory after a typically slow August, the latest data from RBI shows. August is normally a slow month in Washington, D.C. for a variety of reasons, as is the increase in activity every September.

The September active listings were 1,469 across the District. Compared to September in years past, this September had more inventory on the market than in 2013 (8.9 percent more), bringing the market very close to September 2012 levels. But there is significantly less inventory than there was in September of 2011 or 2010, when inventory was well north of 2,200 homes.

The median list price for homes in Washington was $499,000 in September. That’s down from this summer, when median list prices for homes in the District were above $530,000, and down 3.9 percent from 2013. The median sold price in the District in September was $465,000 – that’s a 1.1 percent increase from this time last year, and sellers are getting (a median of) 99.9 percent of their property’s list price right now.

Homes are selling just a bit faster than they were at this time last year, with the average time-on-market at 14 days – that’s two days faster than this time last year, and much faster than in past Septembers.

What does it all mean? Prices have increased when you look over the past several years in the District – in fact, a study of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this month revealed the Washington, D.C. metro area is more expensive to live in than New York and San Francisco (when you factor in housing and related expenses such as utilities).

However, we are seeing some softening in the market locally at this time. The median list and sold prices are down compared to this summer, and days on market are up compared to this summer. We’ll have to see how buyers react this winter and, importantly, in the spring.

For now, the advice remains the same: Buyers still need to be well-prepared to move quickly on a property they like. That means getting pre-qualified for a mortgage if one is necessary and coming to the table with an attractive offer. (See this blog post from agent Timothy W. Detweiler for more on that.) Despite the listing-to-sold price ratios remaining strong for now, sellers need to price their homes competitively if they want them to sell quickly.