Optimistic developers and shrinking inventory good sign for DC

It is easy to tell when a city's housing market is in bad shape - houses stay unsold on the market for months, anxious sellers slash their asking prices and vacant lots remain unimproved for long stretches of time. On the flip side, a healthy housing market is not hard to identify for the opposite reasons - houses sell quickly, often for more than the initial asking price, and developers are anxious to get to work building on empty lots.

With this in mind, there are many reasons to believe that the District falls squarely in the latter camp. A low inventory of for-sale homes and new development projects should help convince people to check out some of the homes for sale in Washington, DC, as most indicators suggest the housing market here is really heating up.

Low inventory
As property values have risen steadily, many people have flocked to the District to find their ideal home. In the last few months, high demand has spurred price increases and caused motivated buyers to tear through the city's already low inventory of for-sale homes, The Washington Post reports.

Citing data from a recent report issued by Alexandria-based Delta Associates, the news source shows what most buyers and sellers have already gleaned - high demand has sapped much of the inventory, and many homes are selling much faster than they are in most metros. According to the source, the third quarter of 2012 saw the average home sell in 56 days instead of the 70 it took in the third quarter last year. Furthermore, steady sales have "dramatically" reduced inventory.

"We believe the Washington area housing market is in the recovery phase of the cycle," the Delta report states.

The data from the report indicates that there are fewer homes to go around than there have been in recent years, and the homes that are on the market are going significantly faster. If you have been waiting to jump in the market to find a home for you or your family, now might be the time, as the new report shows that houses for sale in Washington, DC, are an increasingly coveted commodity.

New development
Another way for people to gauge the strength of a given housing market is to watch property developers. Whether it is commercial, rental or owner-occupied real estate, new construction projects suggest that builders are confident that a given population is growing and land properties are increasing.

With this in mind, the recently revamped development plans for a vacant lot in Logan Circle suggest that some DC-area builders are finally ready to invest. According to DCMud, local builder Jim Abdo is now prepared to go ahead with his plans to build a condo complex on Rhode Island Avenue, NW. According to the source, he believes the market is now in the right condition for him to go ahead with the project.

"My vision has always been a boutique building with a small number of units," he told the source. "And every day and month I wait, the market comes back in my favor to do what I want. We think it's a win-win for everyone, and it's what the neighborhood will embrace."

Both in terms of evaporating inventory and optimistic developers, the housing market in DC seems to be in a good position going into the end of 2012.