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Washington, D.C. Watch: Low Inventory Pushes D.C. Housing Prices Up

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As we celebrate President’s Day, we wanted to take a look at housing in the nation’s capital.

In the Washington, D.C. region real estate is hot. According to MRIS, inventory is tight as fewer and fewer homes are going on the market. The number of single-family homes on the market plunged 36 percent from January 2012 to January 2013, the Realtor group reported. The short supply of inventory is fueling double-digit rises in home prices.

District wide, sales in December were up 10.7 percent from a year ago, with the median sales price at $343,200, the fourth consecutive month it has shown a double-digit increase. Much of the drop off in listings is tied to fewer foreclosures and short sales in the region.

Meanwhile, the number of homes scheduled to be auctioned climbed between December and January in the District and 26 states, according to RealtyTrac. Maryland, for example, saw a big increase, with scheduled auctions up 82 percent from a year earlier — the 15th straight month where scheduled auctions have increased from a year earlier in Maryland. Foreclosure starts in Maryland increased 87 percent from a year ago.

Washington, D.C. saw a 38 percent increase in overall foreclosure activity in January, but Virginia, on the other hand, saw a 33 percent decrease in overall foreclosure activity in January. Virginia is a non-judicial foreclosure state, where foreclosure proceedings are handled outside of the courts.

There are several theories why sellers in the District of Columbia are not listing their homes. Many potential sellers are holding off until home values increase more, especially as the key spring selling season approaches. Some borrowers could be underwater and don’t have enough equity at current prices to “trade up” into a larger property. Others may have trouble finding a replacement home with inventory so low. Moreover, economic uncertainty also remains a key issue on the table for many buyers.

The increase in foreclosure activity in Maryland should mean more short sales and bank-owned sales listed in the next few months, but the strong demand for housing in the region should quickly absorb that additional inventory.

What do you think about the supply-demand imbalance in the D.C. metro?

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