- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

Existing-home sales were up 4 percent in February in the Washington metropolitan area, indicating that our market is not just holding steady, but is still expanding.

If 4 percent doesn’t strike you as a significant increase, remember that no February in history has ever seen 9,112 home sales, as we did last month. Ten years ago, only 3,200 homes were sold in February.

In fact, 9,112 is probably a lower figure than the market could have generated. Because homes are selling as quickly as they are placed on the market, many buyers can’t find homes to purchase. If the inventory of homes for sale were not at a record low, I bet we could have sold 11,000 last month.

In particular demand are affordable homes, which are most often found outside the Beltway. The five area counties with double-digit-percentage sales growth this year are all outside the Beltway.

Stafford County has taken an early lead over all other counties in the area. Total sales for January and February in Stafford were 24 percent higher than last year.

It’s easy to understand why — Stafford is one of the most affordable places to buy. Even though prices there were up 38 percent last month, the median price for a home in Stafford County was $345,000 in February.

That isn’t cheap, but it is a lot less than the median in Arlington ($450,000) and in Loudoun ($429,000). Despite such high prices, sales were up 15 percent in Loudoun County in January and February, more than in any other county except Stafford.

On the Maryland side, Charles County is out ahead, with 13 percent higher sales than in the first two months of 2004. Charles is probably doing so well for the same reasons Stafford County is — affordability. The median price in Charles County was $295,900 in February.

Chris Sicks

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail ([email protected]).

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