- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Home sales slowed last month in the Washington metropolitan area, falling to 9,372. It was the slowest April in six years.

Sales were down 27 percent compared to April 2005. Sales were even down compared to March, which is uncommon. Most years, April is a busier month than March — but this is a very different year.

If you’ve tried to sell a home recently, you know. Home sales have slowed dramatically.

The slowest market of all was Loudoun County, where homes took an average of 136 days to sell. That is six times longer than it took to sell a home last year.

Only Prince George’s County experienced relatively quick sales last month.

Nearly 20,000 homes were placed on the market in April. Despite the fact that the seller’s market of 2000-2005 is now history, plenty of people are still trying to sell.

But, with sales down by 17 percent in Maryland and 37 percent in Virginia, new listings aren’t going to sell very soon.

The surplus is having an effect on prices. When homes sell quickly, they usually sell for more money, but when homes are selling as slowly as they are now, they often sell for less.

In most jurisdictions, homes sold for 97 percent of the asking price last month. A year ago, homes were selling for 100 or 101 percent of the asking price in most markets.

The change is probably due to two things: Some sellers are still reaching for the stars when they set their asking price, and buyers aren’t getting into bidding wars that push prices higher.

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

Statistics in this story include the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles and Frederick; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Alexandria; and the District.

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