- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2010

It’s hard to imagine how they got through all that snow, but Maryland homebuyers didn’t seem to be affected by last month’s storms.

Overall sales for the Washington area were down 7 percent in February compared to February 2009. That was expected, considering the snow that paralyzed the region.

The surprising thing is, though sales were down 21 percent in Virginia, they were up 14 percent in Maryland. Every Virginia jurisdiction in the Washington area saw a drop in sales, while Prince George’s County was up 28 percent, Frederick was up 20 percent, and Charles County was up 49 percent over February 2009.

PDF: Charting the market

Maryland and Virginia received about the same amount of snow, so that doesn’t account for the difference.

A better explanation can be found if we look back at January sales - before the snow came. Maryland sales were up 50 percent in January, while Virginia sales were down 11 percent. So the discrepancy precedes the wintry weather.

Here’s what is happening: Maryland is catching up with the kind of sales rebound Virginia already has enjoyed. In 2008, Virginia sales were up 35 percent because buyers were motivated by the sharp drop in home prices in counties such as Prince William. Maryland sales fell 17 percent that year. It’s not a coincidence that prices didn’t drop as much in Maryland in 2008 as they did in Virginia.

During the first quarter of 2009, Virginia sales were up 35 percent, and Maryland’s were up 13 percent. As 2009 unfolded, Maryland sales picked up and finished the year with an increase of 37 percent over 2008. So what we are seeing this year is a continued rebound for Maryland resales. Virginia is still ahead in the sheer number of sales, but Maryland could catch up this year.

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