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What DC Condo Sales Say About the Housing Market

Signs point to increased demand.

Expect 2023’s condo market to be healthy, say agents.
Real Estate 2023

About Real Estate 2023

After a few long and topsy-turvy years, it might be time to meet the new normal.

Condominiums are often the housing market’s canary in the coal mine: Usually they’re the first to decline in a down market and the first to rebound when the market shifts. During the initial shock of the pandemic, people fled condos because they didn’t want to be in high-rises or share elevators, says David Shotwell, a real-estate agent with Compass in DC. Plus, as people worked from home, they wanted more indoor and outdoor space and didn’t care about condo amenities they couldn’t use.

The condo market saw a brief uptick when people started getting vaccinated and return-to-office talks began, says Shotwell. But condos were the first to decline during the market slump that came at the end of 2022 amid recession fears. In the Washington area, about 18,500 condos sell every year, says Christopher Suranna, an agent with RLAH @properties in DC. In 2021, condo sales soared to more than 23,250, as part of the overall sales spike fueled by low interest rates, but were back to normal in 2022, with 18,786 sales, despite the end-of-year drop.

The good news: Agents expect this year’s condo market to be healthy, with increased demand as first-time buyers get comfortable with current mortgage rates and more people move back to the city. As of January, the median sale price for condos was 6 percent higher than the same time last year, according to Bright MLS.

“The condo market is definitely rebounding in many areas because some buyers want to be back in the city near theaters and restaurants and others want to walk to work now that they’re in the office more often,” Shotwell says. One exception: The condo market in the District’s downtown core is still struggling, he notes, as many offices there remain empty.

This article appears in the March 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Michele Lerner

Michele Lerner ([email protected]) covers real estate, interior design, and personal finance.