- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

From a seller’s perspective, things are rather gloomy in the Washington metropolitan area, with few bright spots in sight.

Sales of existing homes are down throughout the region. The number of listings is at an all-time high, meaning sellers are competing with one another like never before.

And, because that surplus of houses means that buyers don’t have to compete for homes, prices aren’t rising like they had been.

In fact, sales prices are down in many jurisdictions. Median sales prices in August were down — as much as 14 percent in Arlington — yet they also rose 9 percent in Prince George’s County.

There’s one other bright spot — maybe it’s more of a dimly glowing spot, but we’ll take what we can get right now.

August sales are typically 6 to 8 percent lower than July sales, but this year was different. Last month’s existing-home sales were virtually identical to July’s sales. That hasn’t happened in at least a decade.

What does it mean? It may not mean much, but perhaps the market isn’t slowing quite as much as it was in recent months.

It really depends on which numbers you look at, however. Compared to last year, August sales were down 28 percent.

In terms of sales numbers, Prince William County fared the worst, once again. Sales there were down 49 percent. The District had the best August of any jurisdiction in the region, with sales down “only” 15 percent.

Looking at cumulative sales for the first seven months of 2006, the counties that have slowed the least are Charles and Prince George’s.

In fact, Maryland as a whole has had a much better sales year than Virginia. January through August sales were down 17 percent in Maryland. In Virginia, the figure was down 33 percent.

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

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