Homebuyer interest in DC has cooled from last year

The number of contracts signed to buy a home throughout the Washington region, and the number of closed sales, were both lower in September than August and lower than a year ago, and one index notes a drop in buyer interest compared to last fall.

Listing service Bright MLS’s Home Demand Index, which measures things like online searches and tour requests instead of sales, is now in the “moderate” range, with the index more than 9% lower than it was last September. Bright MLS does note there was a significant increase in demand in September for higher-priced single-family homes, and higher-priced condos.

But overall agent showings in September were down 13.3% from August, and down 1% from last September.

“In this moderate range, it is starting to indicate we may be returning to more of a typical market, moving away from the frenzied market we’ve been having for the last 12 to 16 months,” said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist with Virginia Realtors and an adviser to Bright MLS.

The number of closed sales throughout the D.C. region in September was down 10.8% from August and 9.3% lower than a year ago. Pending sales, those with signed contracts but sales not yet closed, were down 3.7% from the previous month and down 2.2% from a year earlier.

There are more sellers. The number of new listings that came on the market last month was up 15.1% from last September.

Asking prices may have also leveled out. The median sales price in September metro wide was $515,000, up 2.4% from a year ago, but down 4.1% from August.

Arlington County remains the most expensive county in the D.C. region, with a median selling price of $645,000 in September, but that was down more than 9% from a year earlier.

“We do find in a place like Arlington, and really in many parts of the Washington area, we are hitting price points that are really putting a lot of buyers out of the market. That affordability challenge is hitting hardest in places like Arlington,” Sturtevant said.

Below is a chart showing median selling prices by jurisdiction throughout the Washington region in September, courtesy of Bright MLS.

Click to enlarge graphic.

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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