Housing stats show D.C. still strong in recovery

WASHINGTON – The D.C. region remains ahead of the curve, as one of the leading indicators of economic health has the nation’s capital continuing to trend upward.

Forclosures in the D.C. area are down 5 percent since March, and down 14 percent since the same time last year, says John McClain, senior fellow at George Mason University and real estate specialist.

“It certainly looks a lot better than it has in a long time,” McClain tells WTOP.

The calculus of recovering from the Great Recession, largely spurred on by a real estate market collapse in 2008, shows a “significant decline” in toxic foreclosures, McClain says.

“For the economy to really recover, we need to have housing begin to join that. Before housing could join the recovery, we had to get ride of the foreclosures we had in the system,” he says.

Sales of foreclosed homes make up a significant minority of traditional sales, with only 7 percent in the area this year, down from 17 percent the same time last year, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems and RBIntell housing data.

Traditional, non-forclosure sales make up 55 to 60 percent of real estate nationwide. In the D.C. region it’s 80 percent.

“We’re much better,” says McClain.

“Financial institutions are getting a little more efficient in how they’re getting rid of these houses that are in trouble,” he says. “Short sales are a little more efficient way of getting rid of them than having them go into foreclosure and having them be a bank-owned property.”

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