- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2008

We all know home prices have fallen. If you bought in 2004 or 2005, you may have a home that is worth less than when you bought it. This is particularly true for those who made a small down payment, or none at all.

Of course, many homeowners in the Washington area bought earlier, so they still have a lot of the equity gained during the sales boom from 2000 to 2005.

As bad as the news has been, with double-digit declines in home prices for some counties, homes still are worth more than they were in 2000. In some areas, homes actually have increased in value since the slowdown began in 2005.

Today’s charts show the median sales prices from 2000 as a benchmark. The next bar is 2005, which is the year the sales boom began to reverse.

Since then, sales have slowed dramatically, and prices have fallen. By the end of 2007, nearly every jurisdiction had posted a drop in median sales prices.

Many of these jurisdictions saw prices fall further this year. Prices in Prince William County were down 33 percent in May.

Notice, however, that in seven of these jurisdictions, prices in May were higher than in 2005. Some of these areas experienced a dip in prices in 2006 and 2007 but have bounced back.

The two biggest cities in our area - Baltimore and the District - have fared better than any of the other jurisdictions. Prices in these cities are up significantly compared to 2005.

One word of warning: May’s data is not as reliable as the annual data represented by the other three bars. Home-price data for a single month is susceptible to fluctuations caused by the sale of a few very expensive or very inexpensive homes. Those fluctuations even out in annual data, making 12-month data preferable for serious analysis.

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

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