Assessing the Arlington Real Estate Markets — May-August 2008

The Arlington County Real Estate Market May-August 2008

So what is the latest and the greatest concerning the Arlington real estate markets in terms of homes sales, sold prices and inventory?  Let’s take a look.  Some of you may have been wondering why I haven’t posted for so long so I’ll use bullets to answer that. (by the way the synopsis of this entire post is at the end of the article for you types who want bottom lines without the details)
  • moving locally
  • 2 days later leaving for 2 weeks in NC meeting with a builder and Myrtle Beach vacation afterwards
  • finding out there was a squatter on 6 acres I purchased last year outside Wilmington who had his horses/fences on my land
  • Finding a land for sale sign at the entrance
  • arriving home to a house full of unpacked boxes and furniture that needed to be moved
  • buying way too much furniture and then getting callouses literally putting it all together that week
  everything was put on hold for the Sony Bravia 52″
  • recruiting another realtor to be a real estate blogger on my domain in the Fredericksburg Virginia area
  • my mom came into town for 9 straight days at our house
  Can you say distracting? So back to blogging about real estate and saving my clients money!$!$!$!

The Arlington Real Estate Market Data

First, let us look at the county as a whole for the past few months and then we’ll get more local to a few zip codes.  In comparing median sold price since May to the same months in 2007 we get this graph:   So as you can see prices are lower than a year ago after having held strong a long time.  Some would say it’s about time.  After all the median sold price for 2007 was +1% versus 2006 so some deflation to the Arlington Virginia real estate markets is late in coming compared to other Virginia real estate counties such as Prince William & Woodbridge VA, Loudon & Fairfax county.  Also significant is that the DOM–days on market–has been up 30-55% compared to same months back in 2007.  For example the DOM was 50 in July 2007 but 76 in July 2008.  So it takes usually takes much longer to sell your home in Arlington than a year ago.  The positive is that the # of active listings is down from 990 in August 2007 to 880 in August 2008. However before you step back and go make the promulgation that home prices dropped 14% in Arlington in 2008 you have got to take a deep breath, relax, and take the #s with a grain of salt.   Real estate is hyperlocal.  And this is a window of the year and by the end of the year the market data may tell a different story.  Also the data is profoundly different for the different zip codes and probably neighborhoods.  So generalizing about real estate is generallynot a good idea.   Let’s look at an example or two of changing #s depending on the window you look through. One example of changing numbers depending on the window you look through is market data of single family houses versus condos.  You can see below that median sold prices for Arlington VA condos has been down in 2008 significantly but single family homes for sale in Arlington have faired better.

22205 Real Estate Data in Arlington County

Back in April 2008 I noted that 22205 in North Arlington real estate had an inventory of active listings 40%+ higher than in April 2007. Here’s how I put it: “While I didn’t have time to check each zip code for comparisons it was interesting to note that 22205 where I used to live in Madison Manor had a huge increase in inventory versus a year ago +40%.  Something similar happened in North Springfield a year ago I stated immediately that prices therefore had to come down.  And they came down big–a solid 15%.  Will I say that for 22205 in Arlington?  No it’s a different market that is better insulated.  But prices will have to depreciate there it seems.  Let’s check back in on this one in the Fall and see where we’re at….” Did I jumpt to conclusions with enthusiasm based on that window?  No, I said we’d need to check back in the fall and see what the deal is.  So now in 22205 we have 67 active listings compared with 67 active listings in 2007 for August.  It evened out.  Windows of real estate data  can be misleading everybody and that’s why I’m so cautious about jumping to conclusions either positive or negative.  Big pictures matter more than little pictures in real estate. One thing in particular to note in 22205 is that DOM have skyrocketed in recent months 200-300% higher than earlier in the year.  Just coincidence or a sign of something bigger.  The answer is we do not know.

22201 Market Data for Arlington VA

22201 is the Courthouse, Clarendon and Ballston areas of the orange line corridor.  The number of active listings in 22201 is down to 121 in August 2008 versus 151 in August 2007.  Good stuff.  Back in August 2006 it was 244 active listings in 22201 when everybody was freaked out and did not if this was a slow down or a big bubble popping.  Turned out to be a slow down for Arlington.  Median sold prices are down in recent months like much of the county along with the DOM being higher about 25% than a year ago combined with lower list prices by Sellers.  And the number of units sold in 22201 is down about 25% versus a year ago as well in recent months.  County wide the number of transactions is down around 25% which means demand has been down.

Quarterly Report for Arlington County 2008

The quarterly report for the 3rd quarter should be out soon and it will give a better picture of where the county real estate market stands…. For now here’ s the synopsis:
  1. prices are down in general
  2. DOM is signficantly higher than a year ago
  3. list prices are down so Sellers are somewhat attuned to the market
  4. now more than ever it pays to have the right selling agent (buyer agent as opposed to the listing agent) and you don’t want to overpay for your real estate in Arlington VA.  Read my article on “floaters” for some blunt advice on choosing a buyer agent to protect you financially…such as my team at  By the way we do hang our hats at RE/MAX Allegiance

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