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D.C. home prices reach record high

Home prices in D.C. reached a record high in July, surpassing the boom of 2005 and making it the third jurisdiction in the Washington region to hit a record this summer, new data show.

Prices in the region’s core — D.C., Arlington and Alexandria — all topped highs set by the housing boom in the 2000s. Median home sales in the District reached $457,500 in July, beating the previous high of $450,000 in November 2005. Arlington prices soared to $550,000 last month, beating the median $525,000 set six years earlier, and Alexandria surpassed its former high when prices reached $500,000 this May.

Montgomery, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties are all closing in on their housing-boom peaks, with all but Prince William reaching median prices of more than $400,000 this summer. Meanwhile, Prince George’s County has lagged behind in its recovery, with prices just $22,000 above its bottom.

The rising prices here are largely due to higher demand with fewer homes on the market, said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of real estate consulting firm Miller Samuel. In addition, housing stock in prior summers still included a great deal of foreclosures and short sales typically sold to people with plans to rehab the property and sell it for a profit.

With many of those lesser-valued homes off the market, the median sale price increases, he said.

“When you say ‘record,’ it’s scary because it makes you think of the boom, and that’s not what’s going on here,” Miller said. “The reality is you have a shift in the mixture.”

He predicted that even with the possibility of federal spending slowing down next year, D.C. and the close-in jurisdictions would continue their steady rise.

Boyd Campbell, a real estate agent who serves suburban Maryland and the District, said the reason Prince George’s County is so far behind its neighbors is because its slide to the bottom took two years longer than the rest of the region.

The county is just 16 months into its recovery while the District is 2 1/2 years in and other counties are 3 1/2 years in.

“As a rule, that’s what happens,” Campbell said of the slower cycle in Prince George’s. “This is the third time I’ve experienced it.”

He said developers and rehabbers have now shifted their attention to Prince George’s.

“Absolutely its going to rebound [here],” Campbell said. “There’s this pent-up demand for housing — everyone can’t afford to live in Arlington or Petworth or Columbia Heights.”

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