Friday, March 30, 2007

Condo Sales: The Fedora

According to, the Fedora is:

...the renovation of the historic Pitts Hotel on Meridian Hill Park. There will be 103 units originally priced starting in the low $300's. Units range in size from approximately 705 square feet to 1,645 square feet. Floor plans range from one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedroom, and two bedroom with den configurations.

The building won an "Award of Merit" in the "New Condominium/Co-ops/Conversions 4-stories and below, $375,001-$450,000" category from the 2006 Monument Awards.

The Fedora 1451 Belmont St NW, Dc, 20009

Units sold through January 2007

Of the 103 units, 78 sold by the end of January 2007; according to the District's real property assessment database, 25 are either still for sale or haven't had their closings recorded yet. Including flips, the District recorded 82 sales transactions at the Fedora from June 2006 to January 2007.

Information on individual sales can be found at

I was unable to find any units listed for sale on the MLS, although one unit ["NEVER OCCUPIED BY TENNANT {sic} OR OWNER"] is advertised for rent on craigslist, a 2/2 for $2500.

Units flipped through January 2007

Four units flipped in 2006, amazingly enough all in 4Q 2006:

Unit #424 had the lowest profit margin to the seller, only 6.2%. The others ranged from 20.2% - 34.1 % profit margins.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

DC Sales: January 2007 by Zip Code

As mentioned in the last post, 670 sales were recorded in the District in January 2007. The figure on the right list those sales, organized by zip code.

While zip codes 20008, 20007, and 20015 continued to have the highest average price, the sales action was in zip codes 20009, 20001, and 20002, which recorded the highest sales volume by units.

Condos drove the sales in zip codes 20009 and 20001, representing 79.73% and 77.46% of sales in each in January. Rowhouses had a 52.46% share of the sales in 20002.

Detailed Data

In the condo market, 20009, 20001, and 20004 were the top three zip codes in sales volume, constituting about 30% of all recorded condo sales. For the latter two, this can be attributed to the closings of units in The Whitman, the Sonata, and Rhapsody [20001] and The Artisan [20004]. No single building drove sales in 20009. I don't know why I'm still surprised by this, but units in the Sonata are already being advertised for rent on craigslist; a 1/1 for $1950 and unit #905, a 2/2 with stunning sink hardware for $2600 [JUST REDUCED]. The paint is so fresh on this one that its sale hasn't even been posted by the District yet.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DC Sales: January 2007

As I mentioned earlier, I've finished collecting and scrubbing [correcting] full value residential sales the District recorded in January 2007; the data have been uploaded to and I had to omit a few sales, probably less than 5, because of irreparably bad data [read: poor quality assurance], e.g., the $88MM condo in Q14.

I changed the formatting of my analysis and added a new metric - dollar volume - to provide greater insight into the market's current state. I think it's more informative now.

State of the Market

Unlike MRIS, my data and analyses include new units [primarily condos] so there will be some differences in my conclusions about the market's state compared to a similar analysis based solely on MRIS reports, which only report sales of existing units sold and/or listed by real estate agents.

In January 2007, 670 residential sales were recorded by the District. The majority of sales, 54.63%, were condos. However, given their lower average prices as compared to houses, the condo dollar volume was 47.73% of the total dollar volume of $313.7MM.

Changes in the Market YoY

Compared to January 2006, prices and dollar volume are down while the number of units sold has increased; I suspect this can be explained in the shift to greater numbers of condos sold vice houses. A number of new condo buildings are coming online now, too. I'm curious to measure their impact on the market's prices, i.e., where would prices be without the new condos.

Of particular interest is that although the number of condos sold increased by almost 35% YoY, average and median prices for condos were negative or flat. In the aggregate, average and median prices were negative or flat and dollar volume declined despite a 5.35% increase in units sold.

Sites updated and have been updated with sales recorded by the District in January 2007. The District recorded 670 full value transactions in January. Analysis to follow.

Monday, March 26, 2007

2006 Sales Summary: Detail by Zip Code

While knowing 2006's aggregate pricing and volume data for the District is helpful in understanding trends [see my previous post], I suspect many folks want information at a more granular level of detail. So here's the same data, this time organized by housing category by zip code.

All Housing by Zip Code

Almost 9000 residential sales were recorded by the District in 2006 [see figure on the right]. Three zip codes - 20001, 20002, 200009 - accounted for one third [32.46%] of all sales in the District. Condos constituted the largest portion of sales in zip codes 20001 and 20009, 65.58% and 82% respectively, while rowhouses had a 62.68% share in 20002.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the zip codes with the highest average sales prices were 20007, 20008, and 20015, with 20016 and 20037 following close behind. Condos represented almost half of sales in 20007 [47.39%] and 20008 [59%], whereas single family homes were the market winner in 20015 [77.72%].

Housing by Category by Zip Code

As discussed yesterday, and demonstrated consistently throughout 2005 and 2006, condos were almost half of all sales recorded in 2006, 49.14%. In 2006, rowhouses had a respectable showing, coming in second with 23.93% of sales, with zip codes 20008, 20036, and 20007 having the highest average sales prices.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

2006 Sales Summary

Prompted by this morning's WaPo article, mentioned earlier, I decided to finish my analysis of sales recorded by the District in 2006. Highlights:

  • Almost 9000 sales transactions were recorded in 2006
  • Average aggregate sales price declined almost 5%, as measured by comparing December 2006's average prices to those of January 2006
  • Median aggregate sales prices increased 2.5%
  • Condos continued to constitute almost half of all sales transactions

Measured from January to December, condo prices were flat.

2006 Sales Summary

Aggregate data

Average and median sales prices

The average and median sales price for each category of housing, each month. The last column in each table provides the average and median sales price for all sales recorded in the month.

Transaction volume

The number of sales recorded for each category of housing, each month. The last column in the table sums all sales recorded in the month.

WaPo 2007 Housing Outlook: Erroneous Data

The Washington Post published its "2007 Housing Outlook" in this morning's paper. I've not had a chance to do a complete analysis, but at a glance it looks like they're underreporting the number of condos sold in the District in 2006 and, consequently, in my opinion, the pricing data reported is suspect.

According to the table published on page R17 1,867 condos were sold in the District in 2006; however, my database shows 4,416 transactions were recorded [new and existing units]. MRIS, which reports on sales of existing units, shows that 3,772 condos were sold in the District through a real estate agent. The District's real property sales database shows 5,360 condo transactions, but that number includes non-full value transactions. Regardless, each data point is significantly higher than that published in this morning's article.

Assuming my data is close to reality, then the WaPo is basing its analysis on only 42% of condo transactions recorded in the District in 2006.

More later: we're off to the zoo.

Friday, March 23, 2007

DC Sales: January 2007 (Preliminary)

I've been entertaining guests from Houston this week so I've not been able to perform any new analyses. However, I did wake up early enough one morning to discover that the District finally completed posting sales recorded in January. It's hard to believe it can take two months for them to post data and, even more incredibly, to find that some of the posted data is absolute garbage.

For example, according to the District 3532 13th St NW, a 2700 sq. ft. rowhouse built in 1909 with 8 bedrooms, 6 baths, sold for $88,977,275. Unless the condo market was more insane than even I believed, I find it hardly credible that unit #603 at Q14 [1401 Q St NW] sold for $88,140,310. At least they spelled their street names correctly.

I'm processing the data now so it can be uploaded to and I'll post my final analysis then. However, I am able to provide a preliminary analysis of sales in each ward in the District.

Ward 2 had the largest number of sales, comprising 29% of all sales recorded in the District. It turns out, not too surprisingly, that most of the sales in Ward 2 were condos and of those, Columbia Residences, the Alta, the Whitman, and the Artisan were well represented.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

2006 Condo Sales: Cityline at Tenley

Cityline at Tenley isn't too far from my home; I've been watching it since I moved into the area a few years ago. Architecturally, it's a striking building, warranting an article in the Washington Post in September 2005. I remember when it used to be a Sears store with parking on the roof, so the building's transformation into a condo/retail space was quite amazing to see when we returned to DC in 2004. What's especially interesting to see is the impact of the new retail space on the neighborhood: Best Buy, the Container Store, and the new Ace Hardware store, plus the renovated Whole Foods across the street, have added a lot of 'buzz' to the neighborhood. Or maybe it's the Starbucks and all those earnest, young AU kids hanging out there with their laptops [the stylish iBooks/Powerbooks and the brickish Dells]. Who knows.

Cityline has 204 units, which began closing in June/July 2005. What struck me at the time was that although almost 170 units had closed by December 2005, most of the units facing Wisconsin Ave were dark. It probably has one of the highest flips ratios of the buildings I've been tracking in my database. Of the 204 units, 20 have been flipped since the building was completed.

According to the District's real property assessment database, 16 units have not been sold. Currently, unit #620 is for sale at $689,900 [DC6306994]. Three units are advertised on craigslist for rent, with a 1 bedroom unit offered at $1700/month and two 1 BR/dens [here and here] offered at $2300 each.

Cityline at Tenley 4101 Albemarle NW, DC, 20016

Sales in 2006:

Information on individual sales can be found at

Fifteen units were flipped in 2006:

Five units were flipped in 2005, one of which was unit #621 [a $900 loss].

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2006 Condo Sales: The Whitman

The Whitman, which broke ground in late 2004 as the housing boom approached its peak, has started closing on its 182 condos. Beginning in November 2006, 45 sales were recorded by year's end; an additional 23 were recorded through the first half of January 2007, leaving 114 to go.

What's been interesting to observe is how quickly buyers are trying to flip their units or, realizing the difficulty in doing so in this market, rent them out. Some owners are advertising their units before the sale's been recorded by the District.

A little research found nine units listed for rent in craigslist and seven listed for sale in the MLS. For example, unit #901, a one bedroom condo, is available for $2000 / month. Unit #550, 2 BR/2 BA, is yours for $2600 / month. The most expensive rental was a $4500/month 2/2.5.

For sale:

Five of the seven units listed are being sold by McWilliams Ballard, the building's marketing firm. I've also heard that they're still throwing sales parties for the building.

The Whitman 910 M St NW, DC, 20001

Sales recorded by the District through December 2006:

Information about sales of individual condos can be found at

Sunday, March 11, 2007

2006 Condo Sales: Georgetown Heights

As I watched Georgetown Heights being built, I wondered who would want to spend $1MM (give or take $100K) to live on and view a very busy intersection (Calvert and Wisconsin Ave NW). For $1MM, you have a wonderful view of a Chevron gas station, a union's office bulding [no offense intended], and an old apartment building. Granted, Whole Foods, Basura, and Rockland's BBQ are just steps away and Dick Cheney is one of your neighbors, but still...

Georgetown Heights has 44 units, with all the usual amenities $1MM should purchase [concierge, granite counter tops, hardwood floors, parking for 2 cars, etc.]. The District recorded the first sales in the building in April 2006. Of the 44 available, 42 were sold in 2006; one was sold in January 2007, the remaining unit is still available.

Three of the 42 have been flipped, four others are currently listed on MLS, and three are being advertised for rent on craigslist, with rents averaging $4000/month. For example, unit 201 is available for $3950/month. That unit was purchased in May 2006 for $900,000 so I have to believe the poor (if not now, soon) owner is experiencing serious negative cash flow.

Georgetown Heights 2501 Wisconsin Ave NW

Sales as recorded by the District:

Information about sales of individual condos can be found at

Flips closed in 2006:

You can easily find the units whose owners are trying to flip them on I've listed below the first sales prices, the asking price currently listed on the DC MLS, and the potential profit should the unit sell. Understand that all of these units were purchased in April and May 2006 so any profit will most likely be negated by carrying and transaction costs.

Friday, March 09, 2007

MRIS February Housing Report: The trend continues

My analysis of MRIS's January report on sales in the District showed that while average and median prices were down, transaction volume was up. That trend continues in the February results reported today.

In brief, YoY:

    Further analysis shows:

    • Compared to January 2007, transaction volume grew 11% for condos and 14% for single family homes.
    • Condos maintain a commanding 54% share of the market in terms of units sold and 44% in dollar volume.
    • The average sales price for condos declined 10% YoY while those for all categories of single family homes, except for attached homes with 4+ bedrooms [-1.62%], increased anywhere from 7.75% [attached, 3 bedrooms] to 22% [detached, 4+ bedrooms].
    • Interestingly, the higher average sales prices negated declines in transaction volumes experienced by all categories except condos [+45%]: two or less bedrooms, -9.43%; three bedrooms, -4.32%; 4+ bedrooms, -10.34%

    Regarding inventory, there's a 4.5 months supply of condos and homes on the market when measured in February sales against the current number of listings.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    2006 Condo Sales: Columbia Residences

    The Columbia Residences has the dubious honor of being the poster child of the condo market's collapse. As reported in an article in the NY Times:

    And while there are tentative signs that the worst of the overall housing slump may be easing as builders cut back and interest rates remain relatively modest, condo markets continue to suffer.

    Take the owner trying to sell a spacious two-bedroom condo for $879,000 in the former Columbia Hospital for Women, which closed in 2002, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington. In 2004, the investor was so confident that he would make a handsome resale profit that he told his agent, Thomas P. Murphy, he wanted to buy five condos. Mr. Murphy said he flatly told his client he would only assist him in purchasing one unit in any one building.

    ''He needs $890,000 to break even, but the offers are at $800,000 to $840,000,'' Mr. Murphy said. ''He does remember that I told him he was not getting five of them.''

    Could he rent the condo? Yes, but that option is not appealing, either. Mr. Murphy estimates that the unit could rent for $4,000 a month, far short of the $6,800 a month the condo costs in mortgage interest, maintenance fees, insurance and taxes.

    ''They have a choice of how they want to lose it,'' Mr. Murphy said of investors and condo developers. ''Drip by drip or in one slap.''

    As described by

    This 225-unit project includes the renovation of the Columbia Hospital for Women built in 1918 plus two new buildings that include entertainment facilities, swimming pool, and fitness center. There's also 28,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.

    According the District's real property assessment database, 50 of the 225 units have not been sold. The District recorded 157 sales at the complex in 2006. Of those, three involved flips. In 2007, an additional 21 sales have been recorded, including two more flips.

    Columbia Residences 2425 L Street NW, DC, 20037

    Sales at Columbia Residences recorded by the District in 2006:

    Information about sales of individual condos can be found at

    Condos flipped in 2006:

    Unlike other buildings reported here, the flips at Columbia Residences appear to have been pretty lucrative for the initial buyer, especially for the first owner of unit 551 [see above]. The trend appears to continue in 2007, with unit #708 selling for a $81,600 profit [110 days between sales] and #204 for a $80,700 profit [152 days between sales].

    PS: Thanks,, for the kind mention this morning.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    2006 Condo Sales: Alta at Thomas Circle

    As described by

    A new PN Hoffman building located on Thomas Circle near Massachusetts Ave. and 14th St., NW. The building has 126 open floor plan condo units with rooftop garden, resident lounge, retail, and garage parking. This is one of the first DC condo project to receive an official green building certification. Units originally priced between $250's to $450's.

    Of the 126 units, the District recorded 94 sales in 2006. According to the District's real property assessment database, 27 units have not been sold. No condos at the Alta were flipped in 2006. I suspect the fact the units didn't close until late August 2006 caused the "investors" to miss the market.

    Four new sales were recorded in January 2007 and one unit (#401) was flipped in January for a profit of $6,000, 118 days after the first sale was recorded; I seriously doubt that was a profitable experience. The owner of #808 is advertising his condo on craigslist for $599,900, having purchased it for $483,900 on October 16, 2006 with hopes of achieving a 24% return on his "investment" in less than five months. Interestingly, the developer of the Alta at Thomas Circle, PN Hoffman, is also selling a unit (#902) on craigslist for $399,000 in an ad with "***PRICE REDUCED***" in the ad's subject line.

    Alta at Thomas Circle 1133 14th Street NW, DC, 20005

    2006 sales and pricing data are presented in the table below:

    Information about sales of individual condos can be found at

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    2006 Condo Sales: The Rhapsody

    Following up on my post about Quincy Court, I looked into another building that came online in 2006, The Rhapsody.

    The District's real property assessment database lists 162 units in the building. Of those, 29 have not been sold and eight werre flipped.

    The Rhapsody 2120 Vermont St NW

    Sales recorded by the District from May - December 2006:

    Information about sales of individual condos can be found at

    Condos flipped through December 2006:

    Ignoring the time value of money, carrying and transaction costs, five "flippers" made a profit, two lost money on the flip and one broke even. The average profit on a flip was $11,400 and occurred, on average, 111 days after the initial sale was recorded.

    Interestingly, two units are advertised on craigslist today: units 6 and 114. Unit 6, purchased for $264,900, is being offered at $340,000. Unit 114, purchased for $290,399 last May, is available for $338,000. Apparently, neither unit has been occupied, but somehow have increased in value from 16% (unit 114) to 28% (unit 6) despite the condo market's current condition.