Markets & Economy

Will Columbia Heights be affordable much longer?

The neighborhood has seen slowly increasing prices and a low inventory of available homes
  • Days on Market has been less than a month for the past four years in Columbia Heights
  • The average and median home sales prices are nearly identical
  • Columbia Heights has seen a huge surge in home prices in the past five years

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Columbia Heights has been the focal point of so many urban revitalization projects over the past decade that the neighborhood barely resembles its former self.

Even though it has now become one of Washington, D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods for those who want a bustling, transit-friendly place to live, it has seen so much growth in the past few years. At RBI, we are starting to wonder if it will be able to maintain all the momentum it has gained.

The biggest story is the growth we have seen in sales prices. Just look at the sharp rise in only the past five years.

It’s also worth pointing out that when we compared median sales price to average sales price the results were close to identical. This is mostly a reflection of the type of housing stock—Columbia Heights doesn’t have many luxury properties pulling up the average sales price.

However, the fact that the median price is now over $600,000 means it is on pace to become out of reach for many first-time buyers.

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To drive the point home even further, the Days on Market has been less than a month for the past four years. This is one of the consistently lowest Days on Market in the city, and a very strong sign that demand is high.

But perhaps the biggest indicator of the high demand for homes is the number of them that sell at or above their asking price. This is an indication that bidding wars are on the rise.

Competition is central to almost any home sale in this part of the city.

Since Columbia Heights is largely made up of smaller rowhouses or multi-family buildings and is a great transportation hub with a main traffic artery running through its middle, it is a neighborhood that has long attracted younger buyers to its homes.

But the way things are going it is unlikely they same demographic can keep up with the rise in prices and high-demand buying atmosphere. We expect to either see a change in the types of buyers who purchase homes here or a softening of prices in the coming years.

Corey Hart is the Senior Product Manager and data analyst at RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of MRIS.