- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It’s still hard to get used to. After years of writing about how the Washington metropolitan area was in a red-hot seller’s market, it takes time to adjust to a cooler real estate market.

However, that’s the market we’re in. Last month, sales were 14 percent lower than February 2005, an even steeper drop than we saw in January.

Sellers and buyers are still getting used to a market where homes sell more slowly, and buyers have more to choose from than they’ve had since 1999.

“Factors like good schools, proximity to jobs and good transportation have become important again,” says Alana Lasover, sales manager at Coldwell Banker Pardoe Real Estate in Bethesda.

“In the recent seller’s market, people stopped caring about those factors. Driving 40 minutes to the Metro didn’t seem like a big deal, because getting the house was the most important thing,” she says. “But now that the madness is over, people are getting pickier. The homes that are selling today are the ones that have the things people are looking for.”

Buyers today have the luxury of thinking about such factors because there are so many homes to look at and they aren’t selling very quickly.

At the end of February, there were 28,200 homes for sale in the metropolitan area. In February 2005, there were only 9,800 homes for buyers to choose from.

That difference is having a significant impact on the way buyers are home shopping.

“One agent I know was showing a couple some homes. The one they were looking at was the best house they had seen yet, but the couple passed on it because they didn’t want to live two doors from a busy street,” Ms. Lasover says. “One year ago, they would have bought that house without hesitation, but this year, they passed on it. When I heard that, I knew that the market had changed.”

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

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