Will rising prices exclude some homeowners from finding a home in DC?

Although the fall is historically a time when home sales start to slow, the District's housing market has been so strong lately that even this traditionally slow time of year has been exceeding expectations. In fact, even as existing home sales have declined slightly across the country, they are increasing in the District. Additionally, inventory has been declining all summer, although pending sales are still up considerably. With this in mind, people considering buying real estate in Washington, DC may find the market in a better condition than they ever could have imagined.

Throughout 2012, homes sales in the District are up 3 percent, the average home price is up 5 percent and the average median price is up 7 percent, according to the DC Condo Boutique. Although these are signs of a healthy economy, they could also give some homebuyers pause, especially if they have been on the fence about whether they could afford a home in this popular city.

This is a legitimate concern, but there are several other factors to consider that may suggest that now is a great time for buyers to jump into the market. In addition to rising prices - which typically suggest a good investment - the city's inventory of for-sale homes has been shrinking. According to the source, inventory dropped 35 percent from August to September, meaning that motivated buyers may want to speed up their searches if they wish to move to the city soon. According to the source, there is only 2.18 months worth of homes on the market, well below the number many feel is optimal for a healthy market.

Moreover, although rising prices may be a barrier for some to enter the DC housing market, there are several local and national programs that could help qualified buyers realize their dreams of owning property in the District.

For many buyers, the down payment required for a home is the largest obstacle in the entire process. Finding the necessary funds, on top of closing costs and moving expenses, can be too much. A new program sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank is aimed at providing down payment assistance to qualified buyers.

"If we can provide a little extra boost to first-time homebuyers or buyers who are ready to reenter the housing market, we can create a new generation of homeowners and kick-start the local housing markets," said Michael Golden, Wells Fargo's DC Regional President, according to NBC.