Jun 10, 2023 - Real Estate

It's more expensive to buy a house in D.C.'s suburbs than the city

Data: Redfin; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Redfin; Chart: Axios Visuals

Buyers flocked to the suburbs for cheaper housing three years ago. Now, moving to the suburbs will still get you more space, but it won't necessarily save you money.

Why it matters: Inventory and affordability issues are squeezing buyers' budgets, miles from the city.

What's happening: Homebuyers’ priorities have changed, partly because some can work from home, D.C. real estate agent Christine Walker says.

  • Walkability used to be the No. 1 item on buyers' wishlists. Now, her clients are prioritizing space and backyards.
  • Demand for suburban homes is driving up offers and prices.

What they're saying: "I'd be losing a lot of money if I was only licensed to sell in D.C. proper, and I don't see that changing anytime soon," Walker says.

Yes, but: Real estate is hyper local, which means what you're looking for and where matters.

  • For example, the luxury condo market in D.C. continues to appreciate, despite D.C. home prices cooling overall, Walker tells Axios.

By the numbers: The median home sales price in Fairfax County in Q1 2023 was $630,000, up 0.8% from a year ago, according to MLS data shared with Axios.

  • Meanwhile, the median home sales price in D.C. was $600,000, down 7.7% from last year.
  • Home sales prices in Prince George's County and Montgomery County are up 2.7% and 4.7%, respectively.

Zoom out: With high mortgage rates and low inventory across the board, buyers are settling down wherever they can find a house within their budget — or sitting on the sidelines, says Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari.

  • If home prices in urban areas continue to decrease, we could see a return to those areas.
  • "The cost will outweigh any amenity," Bokhari says.

What's next: Budget conscious buyers will start looking in more rural areas as inventory and affordability issues spread through the suburbs.


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