- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties lie outside the Beltway in Virginia, but they have become huge players in the Washington metropolitan housing market.

In 1995, just 10 percent of the region’s existing-home sales occurred in these three counties. By 2005, sales had climbed to 20 percent.

Buyers flocked to these markets for the available land and inexpensive homes.

However, when the market began to slow this year, it slowed even more in these counties than in the rest of the area.

In August, the counties with the highest days-on-the-market figures in the region were Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Spotsylvania.

Because of a huge oversupply of homes on the market, sales chances are lower in these counties than anywhere in the Washington region.

“It’s the sellers who are trying to get the prices of a year or two ago who are skewing the market,” says George W. Lyons, vice president of the Prince William County Association of Realtors. “Because they are overpriced, those homes are sitting longer on the market, and they are pushing up the numbers.”

Simply put, Mr. Lyons is saying that the reason homes are spending so long on the market isn’t because buyers aren’t interested but because sellers are overpricing their homes.

“There are a large number of homes coming on the market, and many are selling within 30 days,” Mr. Lyons says, “but those are the sellers who understand what it takes to sell a home today — it must be in superior condition and be priced properly.”

Statistics show that it is possible to sell a home quickly. Of the 613 homes sold in Prince William in August, 148 had spent less than 31 days on the market.

However, 213 had been on the market for three months or more.

“If you have two stores selling the same thing, but one is selling it for $1 more, they will probably say, ‘Hey, those things aren’t selling,’” Mr. Lyons says.

The truth is, “those things” really are selling.

It’s just that they are selling at the other store, where they are priced more competitively.

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

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