- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

Comparing Maryland and Virginia real estate statistics just became a lot more interesting.

In only one year, the Virginia side of the Washington market captured a much larger share of overall sales. Of all the existing homes sold during the first four months of the year, 54 percent were sold on the Virginia side of the Potomac. Last year, Virginia only captured 44 percent of sales during the same period.

This happened despite falling sales in nearly every jurisdiction. Sales rose in only two counties: Loudoun and Prince William. Total sales rose 2 percent in Loudoun County, but were up an astounding 64 percent in Prince William.

That’s the statistic that makes this analysis so different from last year’s.

A dramatic drop in the median sales price in Prince William seems to be attracting buyers in droves. Prices were down 30 percent in April - a much steeper drop than the rest of the market. Looking at the bar chart on the bottom, you’ll see that Prince William is the third-cheapest market in the region. Last year, it was right in the middle of the pack.

However, even if you remove Prince William completely from the calculations, Virginia still comes out ahead. Without the Prince William sales surge, total sales in the Virginia jurisdictions fell 8 percent. That’s still quite good compared to Maryland’s drop of 32 percent. Without Prince William’s sales included, Virginia’s market share still rose from 39 percent to 46 percent.

Virginia is also an easier place to sell a home this year, as seen in the sales chance figures. Chances are my way of measuring the level of competition in the real estate market. Dividing sales figures for the month by the inventory on the last day of the month results in a percentage - a figure below 20 percent indicates a buyer’s market. Higher figures mean we’re in a balanced market or a seller’s market.

Only Arlington and Alexandria posted sales chances above 20 percent, but other Virginia jurisdictions came close.

In Maryland, the very best sales chances were in Montgomery, at 15 percent.

- Chris Sicks

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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