Most Notable Trends of 2012: Micro-Units, Tight Inventory and Fundrise

by Shilpi Paul

2012 was a year when several real estate trends seemed to take over the conversation. Here is a look at three.

Three micro-studios. Image courtesy of R2L Architects. Click to enlarge.


We’re guilty: UrbanTurf loves writing about micro-units and small homes. From the 275-square-foot units that almost came to Chinatown to the Tiny Houses of Stronghold to the 320-square-foot units coming to Shaw, we know that we have reported on this trend ad nauseaum over the last 12 months. And while detractors derisively call these living quarters “closets”, micro-units may become a reality as rents and home prices continue to go up and young adults continue to want to live near the city core.

Inventory of active listings in DC area since October 2007.

Tight Inventory

The next trend is one that shaped almost every homebuyer’s experience this year: the low inventory of active listings in the area.

Every month, the RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI) report seemed to reveal historically low inventory, reaching a seven-year low in July and again in November.

2012 was the year that saw homes flying off the market within days, as evidenced by the numbers in our near-weekly Home Price Watch, and a remarkably low inventory of new condos. As a result, desirable homes regularly received multiple offers and new condo projects would sell out within weeks. This likely added an amount of frustration for buyers, who had to stay on top of new listings and compete perhaps more than in other years. As DC’s population grows by 1,000 new residents per month, we’ll certainly be watching to see if this trend continues in the coming year.

Fundrise’s first project: Maketto


In an early conversation that UrbanTurf had with Rise Companies founder Ben Miller, he hinted that the best way for community members to impact the retail in their neighborhood might be to actually find a way to own the retail. Sure enough, not a month later Miller announced Fundrise, a model that allows community members to buy a share of investment in a retail property, and to potentially share in the profits.

It wasn’t long before everyone from the Washington Post to Atlantic Cities was talking about this new concept. The original Fundrise property raised $325,000 from micro-investors and just closed in November; the company is now gearing up to release more investment options. The idea also seems contagious: one of the developers for Parcel 42 in Shaw proposed a community investment model in their pitch.

Is this concept going to sweep the nation? It’s a gamble: we may not know for years whether or not this sort of investment will yield dividends for those who buy in. But we’ll be sure to keep our eyes on Fundrise as it moves forward.

See other articles related to: micro units, housing inventory, fundrise, dclofts, best of 2012

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1 Comment

  1. pradyot rai said at 4:11 pm on Wednesday December 19, 2012:

    On the Fundrise—I think this is part of a much bigger trend (and is real)—Crowd Funding, social, micro-funding, and getting back to local. The era of world-is-flat is fading, because it was disruptive for us the developed countries. I see this trend is happening in all kinds of startup business from a Game Maker to brick and mortar businesses. And this will explode n-times before we call it a bubble. There are at least 100 or so online sites for crowd sourcing and Kickstarter alone raised 350 Million in last 3-4 years.

    Another reason why this will rise fast is because, this is a better investment option for most of us. The faith in Stock, Bonds or any other security has gone down. People like me don’t want to play with machines who are moving the stocks every minute.

    Last reason is—There’s a legislation due under Jobs act which will make the raising money by crowd funding legal.

    I am all for this trend. I am a small business, idea guy who would want to raise money this way. Or, I am also an investor and would like to be part of the community investments.


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