The COVID-19 pandemic has focused more buyer attention on farther-out suburbs and rural areas around major metropolitan areas across the country, and the D.C. region is no exception.
Families want more space, for both home offices and more fresh air, and those locations offer not only more space but are less expensive that urban and close-in locations.
And with many working from home, the long commute is not as much of a concern.
Nine of the 10 markets where homebuyer competition has intensified over the last year have median sale prices below $500,000, despite price growth of at least 10% over the last year, according to real estate firm Redfin.
Redfin is out with a Top 10 list of outlying counties where sales are up significantly, prices have risen and properties and selling faster.
Fauquier County and Spotsylvania County in Virginia rank No. 8 and No. 10.
You can get a nice home, probably with some land, for under $500,000 in Fauquier County, though prices there are up 13% from a year ago and sales are up 33%. The median price in Spotsylvania County is under $350,000, but that’s up 18% from a year ago and sales are up more than 9%.
A bonus for buyers in those counties is that both offer some bucolic settings.
“I think that’s what people are looking for. They want a place where there are lots of beautiful outdoor areas to explore,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.
Redfin also has a list of close-in counties to urban areas where sales have slowed and price gains have stalled, but that list includes no close-in county in the Washington metro.
“Washington, D.C. is a big, expensive metro, but it’s not losing people as New York and San Francisco are. In the D.C. area there are a lot of different options for having kind of a more rustic setting and not all that far away from D.C.,” Fairweather said.
Topping the list for outlying counties near big cities for heating up is El Dorado County, California, outside of Sacramento, where sales are up more than 57% from a year ago.