DC-area home sales pick up for 1st time in 5 months

WASHINGTON — The Washington housing market continued a familiar yearlong trend in December with prices up, listings down and closed sales lower than a year ago, but there was one bright spot.

The number of contracts signed to buy a home in December was up 1.4 percent from a year ago, the first year-over-year increase in pending sales in five months.

Listing service Bright MLS says the median price of what sold in the Washington region in December was $445,000, up 5.9 percent, or nearly $25,000 more than last December. That is easily the highest December median price in a decade.

Sales volume across the D.C. metro was just below $2 billion, down 8.1 percent from last year.

Bright MLS says 3,521 sales closed in December, down 9.4 percent from a year ago, and the fifth consecutive month of declining year over year sales.

But those were sales that went under contract weeks earlier.

Pending sales, or contracts that were signed to buy a home, in December were up 1.4 percent to 3.362, the first time that pending sales were higher than a year ago since July.

Would-be buyers are still struggling to find a home they want or can afford.

New listings compared to last year were down 3.2 percent, and active listings compared to last year were down 0.5 percent.

Sellers continue to get what they want, or close to it.

Bright MLS says the average percent of original list price received at sale in December was 97.2 percent, the same as a year ago.

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