Mar 8, 2022 - Real Estate

D.C.'s condo market is normal(ish)

Illustration of a rack holding several keys.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

There’s one aspect of D.C.’s record-breaking pandemic real estate market that’s remained relatively balanced when it comes to buyer/seller control: condos.

The big picture: Since the pandemic began, buyers have prioritized larger living spaces and access to the outdoors, leaving condos as a comparatively less desirable option despite their often lower price tag.

What’s happening: Condos are still selling, just not as quickly as other types of homes that receive a flood of offers in the first few days on the market and are bought with all-cash no-contingency offers. The condo sales process can include a bit more time and negotiation, which is normal.

  • “What we had in the rest of the market is like sellers’ market on steroids, I'd say the condo market is closer to how things normally are,” says Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors president Harrison Beacher.

Yes, but: Not all condos are created equal. Those with secured parking, two or more bedrooms, outdoor space, elevation, and/or walkability are moving faster. Plus, overall condo sales and listings are up and exceeding early pandemic levels. 

Beacher says the right narrative and marketing for condos are especially critical. He says highlighting what’s nearby, or building amenities, such as a roof deck, keeps buyers from focusing on a small condo’s living space.

  • At certain points during the pandemic, some realtors have implemented more drastic condo-selling strategies such as using a Spider-Man impersonator

What to watch: Condos are often valued for their convenience and proximity to other amenities, Beacher says. As COVID restrictions lift, workers go back to the office, and businesses reopen, he expects the condo market to pick up.

  • While the federal government will make the move back to in-person work soon, the office vacancy rate in D.C. is still high, meaning a large number of the city’s workers are virtual. 

Between the lines: First-time homebuyers in the District generally look to condos first. Those who are priced out of D.C.’s condo market most often shift their search to Maryland, Beacher says. Aspiring first-time homebuyers are in a tougher spot as rents and housing prices increase.

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