- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When the Washington metropolitan real estate market cooled off at the end of last year, it impacted every jurisdiction in the region. The impact varied, however, from place to place.

On the Virginia side of the Potomac, Fairfax County, Arlington County and Alexandria used to be the region’s most popular markets. After the slowdown, however, homes there are selling more slowly than those on the Maryland side.

The District, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County make up the northeastern half of our region. These three jurisdictions are now some of the most popular markets around.

In March, homes sold more quickly in these three markets (and in nearby Charles County) than anywhere else.

Sales were swiftest in Prince George’s County. Time on the market was up compared to March 2005, but not by much. In Montgomery County, on the other hand, the time it took to sell a home doubled over last year. Still, homes were selling more quickly there than in most jurisdictions.

Homes are selling swiftly in Prince George’s County because it is the one market in the region that is still experiencing a strong seller’s market. The inventory of homes for sale was up, just like it was in every other jurisdiction. But home sales in Prince George’s remain strong even after the slowdown, meaning that buyers face more competition there than anywhere else.

Median home prices are up throughout the region, in every jurisdiction but one. Prices in March were down slightly in the District. This is probably due to the current weakness in the condominium market.

Condos made up half of the home sales in the District in March. In the past year, condo prices have been more volatile than other housing types. One year ago, condos were going up in value more than town homes and single-family homes.

In the past six months, however, the region has been flooded by an abundance of condos for sale. This oversupply has meant that condo prices aren’t going up.

And it appears that in the District, at least, prices have slipped a little compared to last year.

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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