A combination of factors, including a dearth of available inventory, sent the D.C. region’s home sales plummeting in December, according to new data.
But prices continue to rise, suggesting that if the inventory crunch can be sorted out with the start of the new year, sales will rebound.
A total of 6,091 properties went to closing across the Washington metro area last month, down 8.4 percent from a year ago, according to data reported Jan. 11 by MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing data from Bright MLS.
That’s the bad news, sales-wise, but when compared to the pre-COVID December 2019, sales this past month actually were up 15.1 percent.
“A lack of inventory and affordability pressures have been the primary drivers of a slowdown in sales activity,” noted the MarketStats analysis of the data, based on insights by Lisa Sturtevant of theVirginia Association of Realtors, real-estate economist Elliot Eisenberg and Kevin Gillen of Drexel University, who comprise the Bright MLS Economic Advisory Council.
Figures represent transactions in the District of Columbia; Fairfax and Arlington counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church in Virginia; and the counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s and Frederick in Maryland.
Year-over-year sales were down in every jurisdiction except Arlington County and the city of Fairfax, although sales were up in every jurisdiction when compared to December 2019.
Comparing 2021 to 2020, the largest December dropoffs in sales were in outer areas – notably Frederick and Loudoun counties – which had seen the biggest boosts in the real-estate comeback of late 2020, when many buyers were looking for ways to get more bang (interior and exterior) for their real-estate buck.
The median sales price of all properties that sold across the metro area in December was $520,000, up 7.8 percent from a year before. Prices were up in every part of the region except the city of Alexandria, with the strongest growth (perhaps due to depressed inventory) in Frederick and Loudoun counties.
Among various types of properties:
• The median sales price of single-family homes was $649,900, up from $608,000 a year before.
• The median sales price of townhouses was $508,800, up from $456,800.
• The median sales price of condominiums and cooperatives was $339,900, up from $335,000.
The typical property garnered 100 percent of listing price, on par with Decembers of the preceding three years.
The dearth of inventory is shown in the months’ worth of supply in December, reported at an astonishingly low 0.62 months. That is just half compared to a year ago and only about one-fifth the amount (three months) that would be considered a market balanced between buyers and sellers.
On average, it took 12 days for homes to go from listing to ratified sales contract in December regionwide, up from eight days a year before but an improvement from the 20 days required in October 2019.
“With inventories at historically low levels, some buyers have undoubtedly put their home-buying plans on hold,” analysts noted. “Additionally, affordability is a barrier for many buyers, as home-price appreciation continues to exceed wages and inflation reduces purchasing power.”
Figures represent most, but not all, homes on the market. All December 2021 figures are preliminary and are subject to revision. For more information, see the Website at www.brightmls.com/marketinsights.