- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2005

During the past five years, homes have sold more quickly, and prices risen more rapidly, in one area than in any other.

Year after year, the counties of Fairfax and Arlington and the city of Alexandria are the most popular markets among Washington-area home buyers.

Homes placed on the market in those jurisdictions sell fast. On average, homes in Arlington were selling in just 13 days in May. In Alexandria, it took just 12 days.

That is unbelievable for anyone who sold a home in those communities a decade ago. To sell a home back then, it typically took a month or two — time spent sprucing up the property and wooing buyers with juicy incentives.

Now, if you put a sticky note on the door that says “For Sale,” you’ll likely have four bids in 24 hours.

This sales climate made prices in Northern Virginia shoot through the roof. In May, the median price for a home in Arlington was $518,000. That’s an increase of more than $100,000 over the previous May.

Homes in Arlington are more expensive than homes in any other jurisdiction in the region. In May, the median price in the District was “only” $425,000. In Montgomery County, it was $430,000.

Despite the high prices, buyers are fiercely battling one another to buy anything that comes on the market. So if you intend to buy a home in one of these three markets, get your financial ducks in a row. Choose a good Realtor who will contact you every day with new listings that have come on the market.

Then, you must be ready to act. Decide in advance how much you will pay, what is essential and what you can do without. Be prepared to make an offer within 48 hours of the home’s being listed if you want a chance of getting it.

If that sounds too difficult, you may want to take a look at Spotsylvania or Fauquier County. The market’s just a little calmer there.

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

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