Home Sales Decline for Eight Months in a Row

Home Sales Decline for Eight Months in a Row

March activity in Montgomery off 17% from last year

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Image via Picpedia: RM Media LTD (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Homes sales in Montgomery County declined in March compared to the same month a year ago, according to new market data.

Sales activity in the Washington region has been on a slide for eight months in a row, according to a report released Thursday by real estate listing service Bright MLS.

The number of home-sale closings in the county last month dropped 17.2% in a year-over-year comparison, and every area in the Washington region experienced declines except for Falls Church, Virginia.

Inventories were down in the region by 9.7% compared to March 2018, and fell 4.5% in the county.

Similar to a slow February and adding to a recent trend, home sales will remain stagnant if potential sellers don’t have anywhere to move, Bright MLS Vice President Andrew Strauch said.

“Inventory is still excruciatingly tight,” Strauch said. “In the D.C. Metro we’re down 10% year-over-year, which in the context of a typical year might not be that big a deal, but we’ve been contracting for several years.”

Sales for the region in March fell 9.9% compared to March 2018, though they were up 33.1% from February.

Pending sales also rose across the Washington area, up 2.2% from March 2018 and 37% from February.

Pending sales of single-family detached homes and condominiums were up slightly, and townhomes fell a bit. The growth is a drastic improvement to February, when sales, inventories and listings were down across all types of homes.

The number of houses on the market rose 8% compared to February across the region, and while the county fell 4.5% in the year-over-year comparison, it had the second-smallest percentage decrease among the nine areas in the report. The District was the only area to see an increase in year-over-year active listings.

Median sales prices rose $15,000 compared to last year and $23,000 compared to last month in the Washington region, the 30th-consecutive month of increases, though Montgomery and Fairfax counties saw decreases.

The mark fell $2,000 for the county versus March 2018 to $435,000. The county’s median sales price for the year remains slightly ahead of the 2018 number by $900, currently at $419,900.

Prices in the county rose in January in a year-over-year comparison but fell back to normal levels in March, Strauch said, as inventory remains stagnant.

“People are probably in some sort of waiting mode,” Strauch said.

Active listings were down 3.6% year-over-year but rose 48.6% compared to last month. Listings in the county dropped 3.7% against March 2018, and the District was again the only area to experience an increase. There are 1,748 homes listed for sale in the county.

Strauch said while the real estate market tends to pick up as the weather gets warmer, the actual timeframe of the upswing can be fluid and there’s still time for the market to improve in the area.

“April and May is really when you start hitting peak so it’ll be interesting to see how things flow at that point in time,” Strauch said.

Charlie Wright can be reached at charlie.wright@bethesdamagazine.com

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