- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sales of existing homes were down 11 percent last month in the Washington metropolitan area.

It was the slowest March since 2002.

Total sales for the first quarter of the year also were down 11 percent, making this year’s drop in sales the biggest since 1995.

Still, nearly 10,000 homes were sold in March, which means that buyers are continuing to shop for homes and that they are buying a lot of them. So it’s not a bad market — it’s just a lot slower than what we grew used to seeing in recent years.

Sales have been slowing more in Virginia than in Maryland this year. March sales were off by nearly 30 percent in Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties. They had been some of the fastest-growing counties in recent years, but the market there has slowed dramatically.

Anne Arundel and Charles counties in Maryland, on the other hand, saw sales rise last month. They weren’t up by much, but the Maryland side of the market is doing better overall than the Virginia side.

Maryland sales were down 3 percent last month, while Virginia’s were down 17 percent.

The District also saw sales fall last month. Sales there were down 12 percent in March and 13 percent for the first quarter as a whole.

If I had to guess, I would expect 2006 sales to come in 8 percent to 10 percent behind last year’s sales. Though that would be a significant drop compared to 2005, it still would make this year one of the top three sales years of all time.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@gmail.com).

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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