- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The real estate slowdown hasn’t played favorites. During the first three quarters of the year, new-home sales fared little better than the existing-homes market.

Only 15,325 new homes were sold from January through September, a drop of 23 percent compared to last year. Existing-home sales fell 25 percent during the same period.

This year’s weak new-home sales mean that 2006 is on track to be the slowest year for builders in many years. My records go back to 1991, when more than 20,000 homes were sold from January through September.

When you consider that our area has grown by 2 million people since 1990, it is even more surprising to find that this year’s new-home sales are 25 percent lower than they were back then.

In another shift, new homes are increasingly being built inside the Beltway.

This reverses a trend of at least 15 years. In 1991, 54 percent of the region’s new-home sales occurred in the jurisdictions that touch the Beltway — Prince George’s, Montgomery, Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and the District.

Each year, their share of the new-home pie grew smaller as home builders sought land farther and farther from the District. By 2003, just 36 percent of new homes were sold in the region’s core communities, while Loudoun and Prince William counties led the nation in new-home sales.

During the past three years, however, the trend has reversed. The strength of two Maryland markets — Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — caused sales inside the Beltway to surge to 43 percent of the region’s total.

The kind of homes being built indicates that land shortages are making a difference. Single-family sales are down 14 percent in Prince George’s County, for example, while condominium sales are up by 89 percent this year.

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

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