- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2005

Washington-area home sales broke more records last month. With nearly 14,000 existing-home sales, May was the biggest sales month in history. Montgomery County had 2,000 sales in a month for the first time ever, while Anne Arundel pushed past the 1,000 mark for the first time.

Surprisingly, sales have fallen in one of the region’s most popular markets: Northern Virginia.

The combined market of Alexandria, Arlington County and Fairfax County saw sales drop 3 percent last month. It wasn’t just an anomaly; sales there are down 4 percent for the year.

Yet homes in these markets sell faster than anywhere else. The average time a home there spent on the market in May was only 15 days.

Why would sales be falling, then? Prices.

Homes have become too expensive in these three places, so buyers are looking elsewhere.

Even with low interest rates and no-interest loans, buyers still are getting priced out of communities such as Arlington.

That’s why sales are up by double-digit percentages in Prince William, Stafford and Charles counties.

May was probably the peak of the year’s real estate market.

In most years, sales begin to cool down in June, tapering off until the fall.

Still, there are so many eager buyers out there that you surely won’t find home shopping any easier if you wait.

It doesn’t truly cool off until November and December — typically the best time for home buyers because there is sufficient inventory but less competition from other buyers.

But if you wait until then, prices will probably be 5 to 10 percent higher than they are now. No matter how you look at it, it’s not a great time to be a home buyer.

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

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