Apartment sales in the Washington, D.C., area reached their highest level in three years during 2011, with $2.41 billion worth of units sold.

The average price per unit was about 25 percent higher than the previous year as total return on apartment investments grew to the second-highest in the country, with combined appreciation and cash flow surpassing every other metro area except Dallas, according to the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries.

The first two months of this year were marked by surprisingly high sales, the Washington Post reports, and land deals which could lead to more than 700 units were also closed during the period. In all of 2011, total land sales represented the potential for 5,600 units.

The news source suggests investors may be growing cautious in response to the increased supply which will be forthcoming as new development continues and somewhat slow job growth, which could be a limiting factor on demand. Additionally, financing may decrease as other aspects of the economy improve and multifamily receives less focus. Despite this, projections suggest the sector will perform strongly for most of the year, benefiting rental property management and owners in the short-term, at least.