Buyer reluctance showing up in D.C.-area housing market

WASHINGTON — The Washington-area housing market is showing signs of slowing down, and buyers may be starting to balk at rising prices.

Real estate listing firm Redfin says that in the greater Washington metro area it took 19 days longer on average for a home on the market to go under contract in July than it did a year ago. The median price of what went under contract was up just 0.7 percent.

Sales still grew 12.7 percent, and the number of homes for sale in the Washington area was up 9.1 percent from a year ago.

And despite the overall slowdown in list-to-contract times across the Washington region, many homes in popular neighborhoods continue to generate bidding wars and go under contract in a matter of days.

Mary Bazargan, a Redfin agent in Washington, says well-priced homes in sought-after locations continue to get interest, but buyers seem more hesitant to write offers.

“I recently listed a gorgeous D.C. home at a price we thought would attract multiple offers the first week, but despite a lot of tours, it took three weeks to receive an offer,” she said.

“That kind of buyer reluctance is becoming more common, so it’s important that sellers are informed about what’s been happening over the past few weeks, instead of aligning their expectations with what happened in April or May.”

The nation’s hottest West Coast markets have seen a significant shift. In San Jose, Seattle and Portland, the number of homes on the market increased by 28 percent, 27 percent, and 21.8 percent respectively in July compared to a year ago, and those markets also saw sales declines of 11.9 percent, 6.4 percent and 6.1 percent.

A separate report from real estate listing company Zillow this week showed another sign of an early shift in the nation’s sellers’ market.

The share of sellers reducing their original list price rose from 11.7 percent a year ago to 14 percent in June. It says almost half of the largest metropolitan areas have seen a slowdown in home value growth.

The percentage of sellers in the Washington area that reduced their original list price in June was higher than the national average, at 15.4 percent, and little changed from last June.