What does September Housing Data mean for DC?

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting the 10th Annual DC Design House. I’ll cover the highlights and my personal favorites. We have new housing data for the month of September for the DC Metro Area. It’s a bit of a broken record – higher median sales prices, tighter inventory (vs year ago levels). The District, however, continues to buck this trend a bit – we’ll dig deeper into the specifics. In the ongoing Amazon headquarters saga, Gov McAuliffe is said to be backing a site adjacent to Dulles Airport for the official bid from Virginia.


This year’s DC Design House, located in Potomac, did not disappoint. Check out this Washington Post slideshow of all of the rooms. It’s always a treat to see what designers will do when their vision is not influenced by an actual client. On this front, several rooms stood out for me. Caryn Cramer used a bold aqua and orange color scheme in a guest bedroom, with hand-painted graphic murals   (pictured below) in the entryway. The design team at Perceptions Interiors created a moody lounge space by painting the walls with chalkboard paint and literally drawing the details (like ceiling medallions) with chalk.

Then, there are the rooms that you would most like to live in, like Marika Meyer’s lady’s retreat. Pale, lacquered walls and hand-printed fabric on the ceiling create a warmth and calm in the room. No detail was overlooked – from the trim detail on the sofa and the window treatments to the striking wall of framed Hermes scarves. Everything works together seamlessly, without feeling overdone or uninviting. Margery Wedderburn’s living room is a stunning space punctuated by phenomenal pieces of art. In the corner of the room, there is a surprising and whimsical giant sized lollipop sculpture (pictured above). It’s a fantastic way to add a layer of levity to an otherwise formal living space. The house can be toured until October 29th so there’s still time to check it out for yourself.

Housing data for the month of September for the DC Metro area has been released and it continues to show rising prices and tight inventory, on a year-on-year basis. With a median sales price of $405,000 in the region, it is the highest September price of the decade! Similarly, inventory continued to tighten – marking the 17th consecutive month of year-on-year declines. Houses continue to fly off the shelves, with a median days on market of 20. In DC proper, the median days on market sits at 15, the second shortest in the area (Fairfax City is 7!). A couple of points to note: active listings are up 10.6% vs August; new listings are up 2.8% vs last year and 18.3% vs last month. In DC specifically, new listings are up 15.6% vs last year. If you’re thinking about looking in the Fall, there is inventory for you to consider.

As you might recall, we have been watching the data for the District very closely. While the trend in the region has been rising prices and tight inventory, the data for DC had shown just the opposite over the past couple of months. In September, the median sales price in the District fell 6.4% vs last year and there was a slowdown in sales volume of 3.4%. This data, at least for this month, may be a bit misleading however. Last September stuck out as a bit of an anomaly with the highest sales volume of the past five years. It makes for a tough comparison. We’ll have to watch October’s data to get a better picture of the market.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a development update without the latest on the bid for Amazon’s headquarters. Virginia Governor McAuliffe is said to be backing the idea for a Center for Innovative Technology, located near Dulles International Airport.

On Wednesday this week, we learned more about what the Federal Reserve was really thinking when it met at the end of September. As you may recall, the Federal Reserve meets and makes an announcement about rate hikes, then about three weeks later we get to read the minutes from those meetings. Inflation (or the lack thereof) has been at the forefront of the Fed Governors minds. There was a lengthy discussion about whether these depressed levels of inflation are temporary or not. Many believed that this environment could persist. The uncertainty around inflation may warrant a patient approach to raising interest rates in the near future. The market is now placing a lower probability on a rate increase in December.

This week, 30-year mortgage rates rose again, jumping from 3.85% to 3.91%. As rates have continued to climb over the past few weeks, applications for mortgages have declined – with refinance applications seeing the bulk of the weakness.

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