Tricky Stats: A Look At Various Reports on Home Prices in DC

by Mark Wellborn

It seems as though a new statistical report analyzing home prices in the DC area comes out on a weekly basis. Because each company or association that compiles these reports uses varying methods to gather statistics and covers different sections of the metropolitan area, the figures provided do not always mirror those in a similar report. For the sake of comparison, we took a look at three recently-released reports to see how the provided stats matched up regarding the change in median home sales prices between December 2009 and December 2010.

  • Last Thursday, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that median home prices in the DC area increased 6.2 percent (from $310,200 to $329,500) between December 2009 and December 2010. These statistics are certainly reliable, but because it is unclear how wide a swath of the DC area the stats account for, it is hard to attach much meaning to the year-over-year increase.
  • The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) provides a more granular look at the area housing market, as it not only creates separate reports for DC and Montgomery County, but it also breaks down the performance of condo/coop sales and sales for single-family homes in a given month.
DC Condo Price Comparison. Courtesy of GCAAR.

GCAAR’s December report for DC showed that the median sales price for condos and coops had risen from $356,200 in December 2009 to $370,500 in December 2010. For single-family homes, that increase was less pronounced, rising from $408,000 to $420,000.

  • Real Estate Business Intelligence, the analytical arm of the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), not only provides county-specific monthly housing reports for the region, it also creates reports for area zip codes. That said, it does not break down median price by property type. In its December analysis, MRIS reported that the median sales price for homes in the DC area increased just a fraction of a percent year-over-year, from $397,500 in December 2009 to $400,000 in December 2010.

In addition to the sources above, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which has long been the industry standard for tracking home prices in metropolitan areas, is good for individuals who are interested in the general trajectory of prices, rather than home buyers or owners who are tracking the price of a specific property type.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/tricky_stats_a_look_at_various_reports_on_home_prices_in_dc/2880

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