Seasons Change: The New Normal is the Old Normal For DC-Area Housing Market

  • October 1st 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Homes in Woodley Park.

Trends over the past couple of months have seemed to indicate a slight slowing of the home seller's that the DC-area housing market has been experiencing for years. However, local real estate professionals see it more as the return to the cyclical patterns that were the norm before the pandemic. 

"After 18 months of super busy activity, we saw the market return to a more seasonal one in July and August with many people going on vacation," Lauren Pillsbury of Washington Fine Properties told UrbanTurf. "After Labor Day, there was an uptick in listings and contracts which is typical of our market."

The same holds true in the new construction sector.

"Sales activity slowed down this summer as potential homebuyers were focused on travel and other activities," Clint Mann, president of Urban Pace, explained to UrbanTurf. "At the same time, we saw a very robust rental market over the summer which historically is the strongest period of the year for rentals. Both trends felt like a return to 'normalcy' following 2020 where we saw a robust summer sales market and overall slower rental market."

If there is a market shift afoot, it may just be that certain types of listings — like detached homes — are appealing to buyers more than others — like condos. "Overall, the single-family home market remains a seller’s market and we still would like to see more inventory for the many buyers out there," Pillsbury says. 

The data supports this in the sense that demand and price correlate more closely now.

"Despite a slight cooling in the market overall, the higher-end market in DC remains very competitive," Dr. Lisa Sturtevant, Bright MLS Economist Advisor, told UrbanTurf. "Through the summer, homes priced at $570K+ sold in about a week, on average, while homes priced under $570K were on the market for just over two weeks, on average."

This high demand has also perpetuated price growth. "Price pressure has been much stronger on homes at the higher end of the market," Dr. Sturtevant continued. "Over the summer, half of properties with prices of $570K or more ultimately had offers that were above list price. By comparison, only 27% of lower-priced homes (<$570K) ended up selling over list."  

A lot of the listings on the market for under $570,000 are condos, a segment of that market that may be softening a bit for smaller units, Compass' Jen Angotti said, but she noted that condos with 2+ bedrooms and outdoor space are in demand. "One bedrooms and studios are a bit of a struggle." 

While the condo resale market isn't as hot, those in the industry still anticipate more action for the rest of the year.

"Sales have not reached the levels yet that we were hoping for in September, but we have started to see significant increases in our online traffic," Mann said, noting that the late Labor Day this year delayed the fall market. "We expect to see those buyers start to transact over the next few weeks and think we will see a strong October. The question that will drive activity over the next few months will be around COVID levels and employer's return to work policies which are both very fluid."

"I expect that the market will continue to follow seasonal trends staying very active through Thanksgiving," Pillsbury shared. "Historically, we then see another uptick of inventory and activity in January." 

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/seasons-change-the-new-normal-is-the-old-normal/18768.

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