- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

August home sales were only slightly lower than July’s, demonstrating that this year’s market

just won’t cool off, not even when the Washington region empties for August vacation.

Last year, August sales were 11 percent lower than July’s. That’s not unusual. With Congress out of session, August is the chief vacation month for the Washington region. Also, families with children in school are often reluctant to buy a home in August because it’s difficult then to get the family moved before school begins.

This year, August sales fell by just 4 percent. Although this is unusual, I have come to expect the unusual this year. The unprecedented demand for homes this year is having some strange effects on the market.

Consider Prince George’s County, which has become the region’s most competitive market. Just six years ago, Prince George’s was the least competitive market in the region. Back then, buyers showed so little interest in Prince George’s County that prices remained very low — something that would become very important later.

Here’s an example of how much Prince George’s has changed: Last month, more homes were sold in Prince George’s County than in Montgomery County. This was unheard of until this year. In the late 1990s, Montgomery sold nearly twice as many homes as its less expensive neighbor, but this year, Montgomery County’s high prices are chasing buyers to Prince George’s in droves.

Sales are so hot in Prince George’s County right now that the inventory of available homes fell 23 percent in August, far more than in any jurisdiction in the region. With so few homes on the market and so many eager buyers, Prince George’s was a battlefield last month.

This obviously is going to make prices rise significantly in Prince George’s County this year. However, considering how much more affordable the county was from the beginning, you can expect Prince George’s County to be attracting buyers for some time to come.

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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