- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 2004

November home sales were a surprise, besting November 2003 by 12 percent and proving to be more competitive than any November in memory.

Although November and December are typically the slowest months of the year for Washington-area resales, this year has had a way of confounding convention.

This November, sales were not only higher than in 2003, but the inventory of homes for sale also plummeted by 30 percent. That shortage of homes on the market made November as competitive as May was. Buyers expecting to find a more favorable market were confronted instead by a severe lack of properties to purchase.

It is that kind of competition among buyers that has caused double-digit-percentage rises in home prices this year. And with 2004 closing on such a competitive note, we can expect early 2005 to be similar. Look for multiple offers on many homes and continued price increases.

Sales in November were up the most in outside-the-Beltway counties such as Loudoun, Prince William and Charles. Sales in these three counties were more than 20 percent higher than in November 2003. Many buyers are looking to counties such as these to find something more affordable.

Inside the Beltway, competition continues to be fiercest for condominiums.

That’s remarkable, because just five years ago, it was nearly impossible to sell a condo in this region — at least without losing money.

With Washington-area traffic only growing worse, many are willing to give up living space and a back yard for a shorter commute and a lower payment.

The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles and Frederick; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Alexandria;

and the District.

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