Friday, August 29, 2008

Thanks Gustav! Now for Plan B

You would have seen this today if Gustav hadn't appeared and screwed things up.

Have a safe holiday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

S&P/Case-Shiller: June 2008 report is out

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indice report for June 2008 was released this week. It "shows continued broad based declines in the prices of existing single family homes across the United States, a trend that prevailed throughout 2007 and has continued through the first half of 2008."

The data show that the Washington, DC MSA is still suffering home price declines [see the charts below]. Effectively, the DC area's home price index has fallen to slightly below that of September 2004. In line with the national data, our area's rate of decline slowed in June.

The charts below reflect home price data for the Washington, DC MSA.

BTW, I know all the arguments about whether this data is truly applicable to DC, especially since it omits condos. It is what it is.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DC Sales: April 2008

Now that I've completed most of my travel for the month [save for New Orleans, Gustav willing] and fixed a few infrastructure issues, I've [finally] finished my analysis of full value residential sales the District recorded in April 2008. It wasn't a good month - huge declines in the number of units sold and dollar volume.

Expensive homes continue to skew the data:

  • Thirty two units each sold for more than $1MM.
  • Those 32 units, at a total dollar volume of $67,577,000, were 5.49% of all units sold but 23.04% of April's dollar volume.
  • Excluding them from the analysis lowers the aggregate average sales price 18.57%, to $409,649 [vice $503,077].

All data have been uploaded for viewing on and

State of the Market

In April 2008 the District recorded 583 residential sales. In general, the average price fell 3.55% and the median price fell 6.64%. More tellingly, unit sales declined 20.14% while dollar volume fell 22.97%. However, results for the condo market looked especially dire: unit sales down 28.23% YoY and dollar volume down a whopping 38.08%. Although not as bad, single family home sales didn't escape the month unscathed. While average prices rose a slight 1.94%, the median price fell 10.94%, the number of homes sold fell 9.29%, and the dollar volume declined 7.54%.

Fell, down, lowered, declined. I need a thesaurus.

Wards 6 and 7 had higher sales volume; Wards 7 and 8 had positive growth in median prices; and Wards 3-6 had declines in average sales price. Ward 8 had the steepest drop in sales volume, dropping almost 71%. Strikingly, condo sales dominated 5 of the 8 wards.

Condo sales ruled sales in Wards 1 and 2 - no other word is applicable. In Ward 1, 67.82% of sales were condos; Ward 2, 85.09%. Ward 2 accounted for the most condo sales in the District, 32.3%, followed by Ward 6 at 23%.

Distribution of Sales

The chart below shows the distribution of April's recorded sales by sales price.


The number of condos sold [existing and new] fell 28.23% YoY. Average and median prices were much lower, down 13.73% and 3.88%. Among those condos that have sold:

Single Family Homes

Overall demand for single family housing is down 9.29%, as measured in unit sales. Average prices were up a meager 1.94% and median prices were down 10.33%. Semi-detached homes had a great month in terms of units sold and dollar volume.

Purchase the Data

For $5.00, you can purchase a listing of the April home and condo sales recorded in the District discussed in this post. Information in the listing includes [see below]:

  • Address
  • Sale price and sale date
  • Unit number [if a condo and if available]
  • Price per square foot
  • Square footage
  • The number of bedrooms and baths for each unit

Note: Data may not be available for all properties. My analysis is dependent upon the completeness and fidelity of the District's appraisal data.

April 2008 Sales ListingsAdd to Cart

Detailed Data

Aggregate by Zip Code

April 2008 average and median sales prices and unit volume by zip code.

Category by Zip Code

Category by Ward


  • 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.
  • This analysis is of sales recorded by the District during the month as opposed to sales settled in the month, which is what MRIS reports, so there may be some discrepancies because of timing issues. However, I believe the data do provide a helpful indicator of trends in the District.
  • Sales may have been recorded by the District's Recorder of Deed during the month yet may not appear in the District's real property sales database, my data source, many months later. Consequently, those sales will not be in the month's analysis.
  • My analysis is based on District sales and appraisal data that I've collected and processed. I've deleted those sales that appear to be of questionable data quality. Errors are always possible.
  • My analysis is limited to condos and single family homes; I omit properties the District classifies as multifamily conversions. I'm sure I'm excluding some properties that are legitimate single family homes, but I want to eliminate uncertainty.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Summer's almost over and I've finally been able to process and upload the District's sales data for April 2008. May's data is still not completely available; maybe by Halloween. It can be viewed on and Analysis forthcoming, after we return from our weekend trip to Kansas City.

One other item to note: I've spent a lot of time over the past few days improving my CAMA database, which is the database of the physical attributes of each property in the District. That database allows me, among other things, to calculate each sale's price/square foot. More importantly, the changes I've implemented will enable me to provide current information; no more disclaimer about 6-12 month delays in data availability.

P.S. For those who've asked, the partner's fine, it's benign!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

MRIS July Housing Report: Not an Olympic month

MRIS has released its data for signed sales contracts for existing home sales in July 2008. Compared to July 2007, fewer units sold, there was lower dollar volume, and average prices for single family homes were higher while those for condos fell. Forty three of the units sold, 8.5%, were valued at more than $1MM [recall my earlier comments on the higher end skewing the numbers].

Key YoY data points:

  • Dollar volume: Down 29.82%.
  • Units sold: 506, down 31.62%.
  • Average sales price: $ 580,119, up 2.64%.
  • Median sales price: $ 422,180, down 2.05%.

What I'm seeing in the data [without adjustments for the high end] is:

  • The number of units going under contract in July compared to June fell 8.8% for condos and 0.73% for homes. Looking at the graph below, one could infer that the market peaked in June.
  • For almost every category of housing reported by MRIS, unit sales and dollar volume has fallen dramatically YoY. Condos are down 35.45% on dollar volume and 34.7% on unit volume. Homes down 26.69% on dollar volume and 28.61% on unit volume.
  • Single family homes continue to grab about 2/3 of the dollar volume, but unit sales are almost evenly spilt between single family homes and condos.
  • Compared to January 2008, the aggregate average price in the District has risen 4.24% [July compared to January]. Average prices for condos are down for the year [5.47%] while those for homes have risen 9.81%.
  • Based on July's sales volume, there's now 6.58 months of inventory for condos and 6.71 months for homes, increases of 5.98% and 1.84% from June 2008. But, compared to July 2007, the number of condos listed has risen 1.2% and for homes, 15.0%.

2008 Trends

Average Sales Price

Change in Sales Price

Unit Sales Volume

Detailed Data

Average Sales Price

Dollar Volume

Transaction Volume

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I'm trying something new and would appreciate your feedback. I've analyzed quite a few condo buildings in the area over the past 2 years. Unfortunately, I rarely update a condo's profile once it's been posted and I can guarantee you there's some old, creaky data out there. To "fix" that problem, I'm researching whether a wiki would help.

The idea is that I'll put all the condo analyses on the wiki and those who have more current information - and no agenda - can update or improve the entries.

So I've created a wiki, DCHousingPrices, and prepopulated it with a few postings. It's configured to accept anonymous users. Check it out. I'd appreciate feedback on whether this is worthwhile and if there are issues with the platform provider I've selected. Again, no agendas and no puffery.

I'm still working on April's sales data, but travel and my partner's hospital stay have delayed my progress.