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Existing-Home Sales Slightly Improve in February, Price Growth Gains Steam

by National Association of Realtors

Article from the National Association of Realtors®.

WASHINGTON (March 23, 2015) – Existing-home sales increased modestly in February, but constrained inventory levels pushed price growth to its fastest pace in a year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in February from 4.82 million in January. Sales are 4.7 percent higher than a year ago and above year-over-year totals for the fifth consecutive month.

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in February was $202,600, which is 7.5 percent above February 2014. This marks the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains and the largest since last February (8.8 percent).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says although February sales showed modest improvement, there’s been some stagnation in the market in recent months. “Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels,” he said. “Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise.”

Adds Yun, “Severe below-freezing winter weather likely had an impact on sales as more moderate activity was observed in the Northeast and Midwest compared to other regions of the country."

Total housing inventory3 at the end of February increased 1.6 percent to 1.89 million existing homes available for sale, but remains 0.5 percent below a year ago (1.90 million). For the second straight month, unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace. 

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage in February slightly rose to 3.71 percent from 3.67 percent in January, marking the first monthly increase since September 2014. 

“With all indications pointing to a rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year – perhaps as early as this summer – affordability concerns could heighten as home prices and rents both continue to exceed wages,” adds Yun.

A NAR study released earlier this month found that the disparity between rent and income growth is widening in metro areas throughout the country and is making it harder for renters to become homeowners.

The percent share of first-time buyers was 29 percent in February, up from 28 percent in January and the first increase since November 2014.  First-time buyers represented 28 percent of all buyers in February 2014.

All-cash sales were 26 percent of transactions in February, down from 27 percent in January and down considerably from a year ago (35 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14 percent of homes in February, down from 17 percent last month and 21 percent in February 2014. Sixty-seven percent of investors paid cash in February.

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – were 11 percent of sales in February, unchanged for the third consecutive month and down from 16 percent a year ago. Eight percent of February sales were foreclosures and 3 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 17 percent below market value in February (15 percent in January), while short sales were discounted 15 percent (12 percent in January).

“Investor sales are trending downward due to the continued rise in prices and fewer bargains available from distressed properties coming onto the market,” says NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. “Furthermore, Realtors® in areas popular to foreign buyers, such as South Florida and the West Coast, are reporting tempered demand from international clients – who typically pay in cash – due to the strengthening U.S. dollar compared to foreign currencies.”

Properties typically stayed on the market for 62 days in February, down from 69 days in January and unchanged from a year ago. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 120 days in February, while foreclosures sold in 58 days and non-distressed homes took 61 days. Thirty-four percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales increased 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.34 million in February from 4.28 million in January, and are 5.9 percent above the 4.10 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $204,200 in February, up 8.2 percent from February 2014.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 540,000 units in February, unchanged from January, but 3.6 below February 2014 (560,000 units). The median existing condo price was $190,200 in February, which is 2.8 percent higher than a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

February existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 580,000, but are still 3.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $241,800, which is 3.3 percent above a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales were at an annual level of 1.08 million in February, unchanged from January and 4.9 percent above February 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $152,900, up 8.8 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.11 million in February, and are now 6.0 percent above February 2014. The median price in the South was $177,900, up 8.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West climbed 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.11 million in February, and are now 2.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $290,100, which is 4.2 percent above February 2014.

Information From GCAAR

  

DC condo and single-family home prices continued to rise in the District in February, even while single-family inventory rose and condo settlements declined. County prices decreased in both areas compared to February 2014 and inventory was up for condos and single-family homes.  The County did experience an increase in single-family contracts and settlements compared to February 2014, as did the District.   

    

Washington, DC

There was no change to the average days on market compared to February 2014. The median price for condos rose 12.6%, with single-family homes increasing by 6.3%. Inventory dropped 6.3% for condos, but increased by 3.7% for single-family homes. Contract activity dropped by 3.3% for condos, but increased by 4.6% for single-family homes. Condo settlements decreased by 17.7%, but increased 2.9% for single-family homes compared to February 2014.

 

Montgomery County

The average number of days on market was up by 16 days (26.67%) compared to February 2014. Median condo prices dropped by 6.9%, and single-family homes dropped as well, 4.7% compared to the same time last year. The amount of available inventory increased in February, with a 25.5% increase for condos and a 21.8% increase for single-family homes. The number of contracts decreased for condos, 6.3%, but single-family homes saw a 10.3% increase. There was no change in condo settlements, but single-family settlements increased 4.9% compared to February 2014.   

 

District of Columbia
February 2015 February 2014 Change
Average Days on Market: Condo & 
Single-Family Homes
51 51  0%
Condo Median Price $439,000 $390,000 12.6%
Condo Total Active Listings  491 524 -6.3%
New Condo Contracts This Month 297 307 -3.3%
Condo Settlements This Month 205 249 -17.7%
Condo Absorption Rate (Total Active Listings /New Contracts) 1.65 1.71 -3.5%
Single-Family Median Price $595,000 $559,700 6.3%
Single-Family Total Active Listings 473 456 3.7%
New Single-Family Contracts This Month 317 303 4.6%
Single-Family Settlements This Month 252 245 2.9%
Single-Family Absorption Rate (Total Active Listings /New Contracts) 1.49 1.50 -0.7%
       
Montgomery County February 2015 February 2014 Change
Average Days on Market: Condo & 
Single-Family Homes
76 60 26.67%
Condo Median Price $199,900 $214,750  
-6.9%
Condo Total Active Listings 536 427 25.5%
New Condo Contracts This Month 210 224 -6.3%
Condo Settlements This Month 150 150 0%
Condo Absorption Rate (Total Active Listings /New Contracts) 2.55 1.91 33.5%
Single-Family Median Price $415,000 $435,500 -4.7%
Single-Family Total Active Listings 1736 1425
21.8%
New Single-Family Contracts This Month 686 622 10.3%
Single-Family Settlements This Month 410 391 4.9%
Single-Family Absorption Rate (Total Active Listings /New Contracts) 2.53 2.29 10.5%
 

Irresistible Chic Colonial! 6420 Utah Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015

by Phyllis Wiesenfelder

List Price: $899,000

Welcome to this handsome colonial located on a tree-lined street in one of Washington’s most sought-after neighborhoods, Chevy Chase.  Built in 1939, this exquisite home has been extensively renovated and meticulously maintained over the years while retaining its original charm.  This wonderful home offers an elegant living room with gas fireplace, formal dining room, renovated marble kitchen, delightful sunroom, powder room, and one car garage. There are three bedrooms and two renovated bathrooms on the upper level, including an inviting master bedroom suite with two large closets and luxurious marble master bath.  The lower level features a cozy family room or guest bedroom, full bath, and laundry room.  The fenced backyard provides a serene and private setting with a deck, colorful plantings, and mature trees. With its gracious appointments, versatile floor plan, and great entertaining flow, this exceptional residence offers outstanding space, livability, and light.

This home has a superb location convenient to public transportation, Rock Creek Park, Lafayette Elementary School with its park, playground and tennis courts, the Avalon Theatre, the Broad Branch Market, and the fine dining and shopping of upper Connecticut Avenue and Friendship Heights.

 

MAIN LEVEL

*Inviting entryway with coat closet

*Elegant living room with gas fireplace, wall sconces, crown molding, and bay window

*Formal dining room with chair rails, crown molding, and two exposures

*Renovated kitchen with chic cabinetry and hardware, stainless steel appliances, beautiful marble countertops, Ann Sacks glass backsplash, farmhouse sink with Rohl faucet, hardwood floors, and entrance to deck

*Sunroom/play room with three exposures, an exposed brick wall, new wall-to-wall carpeting, ceiling fan, and French door to yard

*Powder room with pedestal sink and window

*Charming deck and beautifully landscaped fenced yard

*One car garage

 

UPPER LEVEL

*Spacious master bedroom with plantation shutters, ceiling fan with lighting, built-in display cabinetry, deep closet with pocket door, and additional large walk-in closet with shelving and two mini-chandeliers

*Renovated master bath with marble floors, large glass enclosed marble shower with bench seating, a farm style double vanity with marble countertop, designer lighting and separate heating/AC system with remote control

*Second bedroom with a deep double hung closet and overhead lighting

*Third bedroom with newly constructed double door closets, built-in shelving, and ceiling fan with lighting

*Renovated hall bath with double vanity

*Linen closet

*Attic storage with pull down stair access

 

LOWER LEVEL

*Family room or guest bedroom with recessed lights, new wall-to-wall carpeting, huge walk-in closet, and outside entrance

*Full bath with separate toilet closet

*Laundry and utility room with energy efficient washer and dryer and storage space

 

ADDITIONAL AMENITIES

*Lovely architectural details such as crown molding, chair railings, and custom built-ins

*Renovated marble kitchen with stainless steel appliances

*Wood flooring on main and upper level

*Slate walkway, stone accented front stairs, deck, and beautiful fully fenced yard

*One car garage

*Fabulous location

 

SPECIFICS

Price:  $899,000

Lot Size:  3,257 square feet

Legal Description: Lots 53, Square 2015

Subdivision:  Chevy Chase

Annual Taxes:  $6,351 per MRIS

 

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Photo of Phyllis Wiesenfelder Real Estate
Phyllis Wiesenfelder
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
4650 East West Highway
Bethesda MD 20814
Direct: (301)215-6915
Mobile: (301)529-3896
Fax: Office: 301-907-7600