10 Real Estate Markets to Watch in 2011

An Inman News Special Report

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1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va.

Total population (2009): 5,476,241
Median sales price (Q4 2010): $331,100
Median sales price % change (Q4 ’09-Q4 ’10): 8.1%
Sales volume (# units sold in 2010): 97,860
Sales volume % change (2009-10): -3.5%
Unemployment rate (Dec. 2010): 5.7%
Foreclosure activity rate (2010): 1 in 49 units
Walk Score: 68

Washington, D.C., was one of only two markets to see year-over-year gains in the most recent Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index report, which tracks 20 U.S. metro areas nationally. While 11 of the 20 markets tracked posted new index lows in December, home prices in Washington, D.C., rose 4.1 percent year-over-year.

The area’s median home price rose 8.1 percent from fourth-quarter 2009 to fourth-quarter 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Though the area’s median home price is almost twice that of the nation’s median, affordability is still fairly high — 78.8 percent of homes in the area were affordable to families making the area’s median income in fourth-quarter 2010, according to an index from the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.

Washington, D.C., is also a place where it is much less expensive to buy than rent, according to Trulia (see rent vs. buy chart).

Employment is the biggest factor in the strength of the housing market in the Washington, D.C., area, according to Rina Battiata Kunk, associate broker at McEnearney Associates, Realtors.