Why are there so many condos for sale in the DC market?

The coronavirus pandemic’s effect on housing markets across the country has caused a shift to more buyers seeking single-family homes farther away from city centers, with a similar, though less pronounced, trend in the D.C. metro’s housing market.

That might be partially responsible for the increase in the number of condominiums and co-ops for sale in the D.C. area.

Bright MLS reports new listings of condos and co-ops in the D.C. metro in October were up 49.2% from a year ago, a 10-year high for the second month straight.

“There is a segment of the population that has been affected by what we’re calling the pandemic effect,” Chris Finnegan, chief marketing and communications officer for Bright MLS, told WTOP.

“These are people who realize that their proximity to the center of town isn’t as essential as it used to be, and they’re seeing the opportunity to cash out and fetch a nice price for their condos and co-ops.”

That does not mean there is a glut of condos and co-ops languishing on the market. There are just as many buyers as there are sellers in that category in D.C.

“As these folks who are in these condos and co-ops decide they are going to quote-unquote graduate to a larger property that might be a little farther out, because of D.C.’s government and private sector boom, there are always going to be people who are coming to the District,” Finnegan said. “And those people want to be part of the District lifestyle, and sometimes the condos and co-ops can be more affordable.”

Demand for condos and co-ops remains strong. New pending sales in the category in the D.C. metro in October achieved double-digit increases for the fourth straight month. The days on the market for list to pending sale was at a record low, an average of seven days.

While sales of condos and co-ops in the Washington area remain strong, the apartment rental market has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, with rising vacancy rates.

Delta Associates reports the overall apartment vacancy rate in the capital region has risen to 4.5% from 3% a year ago. Apartment vacancies have driven average rents down 5.5%, with the steepest decline observed in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, where average rents are down 13% from a year ago.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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