- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A decade ago, Maryland captured the majority of area home sales. In 1996, 25,600 existing

homes were sold on the Maryland side of the Washington metropolitan area, while the Virginia side sold 20,000.

Each year after that, the gap narrowed. From 2002 to 2005, Virginia sales were actually ahead of Maryland sales by a small margin.

But now, Maryland has the lead once again. Sales in Virginia are down 29 percent this year, while Maryland’s sales have only fallen 11 percent.

Sales this year have dropped the most in Prince William and Fairfax counties — both in Virginia. Sales have dropped the least in Prince George’s and Charles counties — both in Maryland.

Virginia sales totaled 18,800 during the first five months of 2006, compared to 21,500 in Maryland. That’s a dramatic switch from this time last year, when Virginia was leading Maryland by 2,200 sales.

Why the sudden reversal? I think prices probably have a lot to do with it. Looking at the bottom chart at left, take note of the most-expensive jurisdictions in the area. Of the eight most expensive, six are in Virginia. Only one is in Maryland.

Homes in Maryland are selling more quickly than those in Virginia, another switch from last year. In the spring of 2005, the fastest-selling jurisdictions were Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax. This spring, sales are fastest in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles.

Because homes are selling more quickly in Maryland, the inventory of homes for sale isn’t quite as bloated as it is in Virginia.

A few of the counties in Maryland were still experiencing seller’s markets in May, including Prince George’s, Charles and Montgomery.

Virginia, on the other hand, is almost completely a buyer’s market at this point.

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

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