- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

When you read about the “Washington metropolitan area,” it is good to remember that this is a diverse and fluid market that can be hard to describe generally.

It’s true that the many jurisdictions in the region have recently transitioned from a seller’s market to the current buyer’s market. Yet each county, city and neighborhood is really a submarket with unique factors affecting buyers and sellers.

This week, we are focusing on the three communities east of the Potomac River that touch the Beltway — Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and the District.

Although they share borders and some neighborhoods straddle the lines, these three jurisdictions could be the least similar of any three in the region.

Arguably the most unique city in the nation, the District is the region’s hub and core. With little available land, very few new homes are built there, and the existing stock of homes contains more condos than in nearby jurisdictions.

That’s good because single-family homes in the District are expensive. However, the median sales price in the District was lower in March than in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun. This becomes more surprising when you note that prices were up 9 percent in the District in March, while prices were down in Fairfax and Loudoun.

To the north of the District lies Montgomery County. Homes there are priced about the same as in the District, but Montgomery County has industry, rural sections and enough remaining land to still support a new-homes industry. Homes are selling more slowly there than in the District.

But homes are selling quickly in Prince George’s County. In March, homes there sold in a shorter time than in any community in the region. That was in spite of the fact that Prince George’s had fewer sales than in Montgomery. The two communities had the same number of homes on the market, but because sales were higher in Montgomery in March, it was a better market for sellers.

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

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