DC stays on list of improving housing markets

After a strong summer of housing market news across the country, September is showing few signs of slowing down. In fact, one of the most positive pieces of news is that the number of improving housing markets increased by nearly 20 percent from August to September, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). Although this is welcome news for many areas, it is nothing new for the District. The rising values of houses for sale in Washington, DC, have kept the city on the IMI for many months.

The net gain of 19 markets since August speaks to a strengthening recovery. Perhaps even more impressive is that fewer than 15 markets were included on the IMI in September 2011, according to the Sun Gazette.

"More metros across the country are experiencing a sustained uptick in house prices, employment and new building activity as rising consumer confidence in local market conditions pushes more people to consider a new-home purchase," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe, according to the source.

DC has managed to spend a considerable amount of time on the IMI thanks to strong employment, a steady of influx of new residents and persistent demand. However, the uncertainty of the housing market in general may be hamstringing the city's growth.

A city of renters?
According to the Washington Post, many of the city's residents are opting to rent rather than buy property, which is sometimes causing them to pay more money for a property they will never own. Since the turbulence of the housing crisis, many people who would have traditionally been homeowners instead opted to pay a monthly check to a landlord. Moreover, this doesn't apply only to traditional rental demographics - like singles, recent graduates and newly weds - it applies to families as well. In 2005, about a quarter of family households were renters. In 2010, this rose to almost 30 percent, according to the source. Furthermore, the renter share among married couples rose from 13 percent to 19 percent.

Unsurprisingly, this trend has resulted in skyrocketing rents. According to Forbes, the District, with an average rent of $2,637, is behind only Boston in terms of rent. In light of this - as well as rising property values and a dwindling housing stock - now might be a good time to consider purchasing a home in the city.