Why presidential election won’t be DC real estate boom

WASHINGTON — With thousands, potentially tens of thousands of jobs in Washington turning over after this fall’s elections, you’d think all those new people and their families would mean a rush on residential real estate sales, right?

Not really.

“Even when a major change election happens, there is no more than about a 15 percent turnover on Capitol Hill, and most of those jobs on Capitol Hill pay less than $50,000 a year, and nobody’s going to be buying a house on a $50,000 a year salary,” said David Howell, executive vice president and chief information officer at McEnearney Associates.

What about the impact from all of those high-paying presidential appointments? There are a whole lot of those.

“”There are roughly 3,000 presidentially-appointed jobs, and there is obviously a slew of administrative jobs that go along with those, but generally speaking those take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to totally fill. And let’s face it, an awful lot of people who fill those jobs already live here, he said.

Howell estimates there is a potential for up to 32,000 jobs to change over in Washington after the fall elections.

But he says election changeovers historically barely move the housing sales needle, with perhaps a 4 percent to 5 percent increase.

The changes could still result in as many as 2,500 or so additional residential real estate sales in Washington. Last year, there were roughly 50,000 total sales in the immediate D.C. metro area.

Even on the heels of major changes in the makeup of Congress in 2010, the number of house and condo sales actually fell almost 5 percent the following year.

There was a big spike in sales following the 2008 elections, with a new White House and a change of 29 seats in Congress, Howell said. But that 20 percent jump in sales was almost entirely thanks to the first round of the Homebuyer’s Tax Credit.

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