April Showers Bring More Buyers? (April Insider)

Redfin’s monthly real estate insider report draws from our proprietary database of information on homes for sale and that just sold, along with insight from our agents to get a sense of what’s going on in the market right now. If you’d like to receive the report via email, just sign up.

Greetings Redfinnians! Welcome to our April Insider Report for the DC area.

Buyers are still actively looking, but this spring market is more tortoise than hare, with buyers making slow, deliberate, informed decisions. Inventory is still looking thin compared to this time last year, and buyers aren’t pulling the trigger unless they find their dream home at the right price.

The story for inventory? Better than last month, but way below last year. Let’s dig in…

Inventory Up Since March, Down From 2010

Compared to April 2010, inventory is down dramatically in areas of Alexandria and Fairfax City & County. It just shows how much effect the home buyer’s tax credit had on the market last year.

County Compared to March 2011 Compared to April 2010
Washington Area
Alexandria +13.5% -10.8%
Arlington County +15.1% -13.8%
District of Columbia +5.4% -9.2%
Fairfax City +26.6% -29.6%
Fairfax County +13.3% -14.6%
Loudoun County +8.5% -6.5%
Montgomery County +8.0% -10.8%
Prince George’s County -5.1% -4.0%
Prince William County +1.2% -12.8%
Baltimore Area
Anne Arundel County +5.7% -5.5%
Baltimore City -3.1% -13.0%
Baltimore County +2.9% -1.3%
Howard County +14.7% +1.9%

Change in # of Homes (SFH, condos, townhouses) for Sale on April 30th 2011

But spring is bringing stirrings of life to the market. “I can tell you that compared to March, I do see inventory increasing,” says Maryland agent Russell Chandler. In fact, inventory is up 10% overall since last month, which isn’t surprising; many sellers wait until after the spring holidays to list their homes. Stale properties may struggle to attract attention, but new listings are toured quickly. If the home shows well and the price is right, multiple offers come a-knockin’.

While the month-over-month increase in inventory is good for buyers, sellers who stubbornly refuse to adjust to the new realities of the market are not feeling the love. Says Phil Gvinter, Coordinator for Maryland: “Inventory remains low. Some of the extremely stale inventory (120+ days) has cleared out or has been delisted. New inventory is trickling in; sales are definitely down from last year’s tax credit expiration mania, but seem to be holding steady over the last six weeks.”

Closed Sales Slide

Despite the increase in inventory, the number of closed sales slid about 10% since March, and dropped 25% compared to closed sales last year. Buyers appear to be more cautious. They’re holding out on making a big commitment until they feel completely comfortable.

County Compared to Mar. 2011 Compared to Mar. 2011 Adjusted for # Weekdays Compared to April 2010 Compared to April 2010 Adjusted for # Weekdays
Washington Area
Alexandria -16.5% -8.5% -27.4% -23.9%
Arlington County +5.1% +15.1% -24.6% -21.0%
District of Columbia -9.3% -0.6% -25.1% -21.6%
Fairfax City -40.5% -34.9% -12.0% -7.8%
Fairfax County -13.8% -5.6% -35.1% -32.1%
Loudoun County +13.8% +24.6% -25.2% -21.6%
Montgomery County +2.4% +12.1% -25.8% -22.3%
Prince George’s County -24.3% -17.1% -33.9% -30.7%
Prince William County -10.5% -2.0% -35.2% -32.1%
Baltimore Area
Anne Arundel County +2.3% +12.1% -16.5% -12.5%
Baltimore City -31.2% -24.6% -33.8% -30.6%
Baltimore County -13.5% -5.3% -31.1% -27.8%
Howard County -1.9% +7.4% -22.9% -19.3%

Change in # of Homes (SFH, condos, townhouses) That Sold in April 2011

Fairfax Redfin agent Brian Herndon has seen first-hand that buyers can afford to be picky: “One of my listings has had over 50 showings, but only one offer. All the feedback from agents has been that the house shows well and is priced fine — it’s ‘just not quite right’ for their buyers.”

Last year, a well-priced home wouldn’t have made it past 20 showings without several offers. But the days of listing a home and immediately getting multiple bids are over. The properties that do get snapped up are priced right, show well, and boast a desirable location. A seller’s property missing even one of these criteria may linger. And linger.

Pricing? It’s All About Geography

Though the median price is up 13% from last month, there are still some areas where prices are decreasing. In Maryland, Montgomery County is still ticking up while Prince George’s County and Baltimore have declined year-over-year and month-over-month. For the most part, DC and Virginia have seen price increases; Fairfax City saw prices up since last month, but still down compared to April 2010.

County Median Price* in
April 2011
Median Price Change
since Mar. 2011
Median Price Change
since April 2010
Washington Area
Alexandria $442,169 +10.7% +8.4%
Arlington County $486,611 +0.6% +6.1%
District of Columbia $412,799 +15.4% +5.9%
Fairfax City $379,732 +17.0% -15.4%
Fairfax County $413,430 +8.2% +4.2%
Loudoun County $389,790 +0.2% +6.9%
Montgomery County $349,895 +3.7% -0.6%
Prince George’s County $156,720 -1.7% -20.3%
Prince William County $275,920 +11.9% +7.0%
Baltimore Area
Anne Arundel County $279,314 +0.2% -2.2%
Baltimore City $84,214 +70.0% -18.4%
Baltimore County $197,423 +0.6% -8.7%
Howard County $384,204 +16.3% +3.8%

Change in Median Price of Homes That Sold in April 2011
*Median Price represents a weighted average of the individual median prices for single-family homes, condos, and townhouses. See our spreadsheet for individual breakdowns.

But numbers don’t tell the whole story. The market seems to be a fickle beast this spring. Jeremy Cunningham, Redfin’s SW Virginia Team Lead which includes Loudoun County, describes the chaos: “It’s a strange market. Very strange. Stats and trends don’t seem to mean much — it’s all about finding the right house at the right time, period.”

But numbers don’t tell the whole story. The market seems to be a fickle beast this spring. Jeremy Cunningham, Redfin’s SW Virginia Team Lead which includes Loudoun County, describes the chaos: “It’s a strange market. Very strange. Stats and trends don’t seem to mean much — it’s all about finding the right house at the right time, period.”

Buyers are focused on finding what they want, and only what they want. Last year’s tax credit seemed to trigger a feeding frenzy. This year? Not so much.

That’s the big picture. Want to know what’s happening in your neighborhood? Download our comprehensive spreadsheet and dig into the data for yourself! Inside you’ll find county, city, and neighborhood information galore. To learn more about how we calculate these numbers, check out our methodology page. You can also liven up the place by posting a comment below.

  • http://savehouses.org/ Gerald Harris

    This will be an interesting scenerio. I think as time will tell, home sellers will become more flexible on price and or terms. Most sellers who put their house on the market are looking to Sell the property not have it sit for long periods of time. The goal of the buyer is to create a situation that is a potential win/win for both parties.