- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Only 6,435 existing homes were sold last month in the Washington metropolitan area, a drop of 18 percent compared to November 2005.

If that doesn’t sound so bad compared to recent months, allow me to explain. July sales, for example, were down 31 percent compared to last July. That month was being compared to the “old market,” however.

You see, in the summer of 2005, we were still in the final days of a strong seller’s market. So July’s sales just looked horrible compared to last July’s, when homes were still selling well.

Then, in the fall of 2005, the market began to cool off. As a result, when we compare statistics for last month to November 2005, we are comparing cooled data to cooling data.

Make sense?

All that aside, last month was the slowest November since 1999. Sales were down by double digits in every jurisdiction except one — the District. Sales there were down by 9 percent last month, compared to 16 percent in Montgomery and 45 percent in Prince William. See the chart at left to compare November numbers in the region year by year.

Because buyers are so price-conscious these days, I can’t help suspecting that affordability has something to do with sales figures in the District.

Does the idea of the District being affordable surprise you? Well, get this: the median sales price in November was $410,000 in the District, down 7 percent compared to last year.

While $410,000 isn’t exactly affordable, it’s more reasonable than in Northern Virginia, where the median sales price in November was $462,750 in Fairfax, $435,000 in Alexandria, and $510,900 in Arlington.

Even though mortgage interest rates are still rather low, prices like these make buying a home a costly venture for most anyone.

Chris SicksContact Chris Sicks by e-mail ([email protected]gmail.com).

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