Resiliency of the D.C. Housing Market

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index was released today for the month of January and news was grim–only two markets in its survey of 20 cities posted year-over-year price gains.  The two cities?

  • Washington, D.C. (3.6% annual growth)
  • San Diego (0.1% annual growth)

Moreover, the Washington area was the only one where prices rose from the month before, albeit a miniscule 0.1 percent gain.  From the report:

“Washington DC appears to be the only market that has weathered the recent storm.  While it was up only 0.1% for the month of January, it’s annual rate was a relatively healthy +3.6%, it is still +10.7% above its March 2009 low, and ranks number one among the 20 markets as its average value is almost 85% above its January 2000 level.”

What makes Washington so resilient to the housing collapse that continues to engulf the country?  A couple of opinions:

Maureen Maitland, vice president of S&P Indices, said the Washington area’s relative strength derives in part from a lack of inventory glut. “Washington’s land mass for new construction is pretty low, and it attracts new jobs,” she said.


Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, attributed the Washington area’s performance to strong job growth among private and government employers. The metro area had 74,600 more jobs in February than it did a year earlier, he said, and only 8,000 of them were in government. The retail, hospitality, health and education, and professional and business services sectors recorded job gains, he said. “Even construction was up by 5,000 jobs.”

“People have been moving here,” Fuller said. “That’s why we have a 3 percent vacancy rate for rentals compared to 6 percent nationally.”

Source: Washington Post


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