Washington D.C. Real Estate Market: as Dramatic as Politics

With the budget contention—and finally, agreement! — dominating the news, Washington D.C. is on America’s center stage. Why not dig a little deeper into this famous metro area, home to so many important figures in our government? So today we focus on the real estate market of our nation’s capital.

ZipRealty accumulates data from the markets it serves, Washington D.C. being one of those markets. These data reveal a history of as many ups and downs and back and forths as we ever see in Congress. For instance, below is median price per square foot of homes sold as well as transaction volume in D.C. from August of 2009 through July of 2011, revealing steep inclines and dizzying descents through the months.

But because inventory has so much effect on home prices as well as how many homes can be sold, we also include D.C.’s inventory numbers for the same period so we can have a clearer picture of forces at work in this market. Keep in mind also seasonality: homes are harder to sell in the dead of winter, so sharp drop offs should be expected in those chilly months.

See all available MLS listings of homes for sale in the Washington DC area.

Perhaps the most stable aspect of the D.C. metro’s real estate market is the type of home sold most often. Specifically, D.C. has enjoyed a large majority percentage of market re-sales, as opposed to short sales or foreclosures, for the past two years, and sales of distressed properties have declined in the last four months.

The information you see here can be interpreted in many ways, but certainly we must account for seasonality, and for inventory, especially as pool of homes sold around New Year’s changes: possibly, lower quality homes– leftovers– show through the numbers of price per square foot. Even accounting for these pressures on the market, it is interesting to see the ups and downs that D.C. real estate has struggled with, so similar to the ups and down the government there struggles with.

Wouldn’t it be interesting (or scary) to chart how the contention in Washington influences real estate? For example, when budget talks fail, how, in real numbers, does this effect consumer confidence? When the Senate bickers with the Congress, what happens to home prices? Or now, with the downgrading of America’s AAA credit rating, what repercussions will we see in the industry?