- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sales of existing homes were down 18 percent last month compared to March 2006. The first quarter of this year was the slowest since 2000.

Still, more than 22,000 homes were sold in the past three months. That’s a lot of real estate changing hands. Nevertheless, it is a significant drop in activity compared to 2004, when 29,000 homes were sold from January through March.

Last month’s sales were up quite a bit over February, but that doesn’t mean much of anything. Sales always rise as spring arrives. Most years, sales continue to climb into April and May, tapering off in June or July.

It is perhaps more interesting to look at how individual counties are doing compared to recent years. Prince George’s and Prince William counties were really booming a few years ago, but they both have seen dramatic drops in the number of home sales this year.

Sales in Prince George’s County were off 30 percent in the first quarter, and Prince William’s sales fell 31 percent compared to last year.

This is particularly surprising because homes in these counties remain relatively affordable. The median sales price in Prince William in March was $86,000 lower than in nearby Fairfax County, and the median in Prince George’s County last month was $100,000 less than in Montgomery County.

Although those two examples of slowing sales are the most dramatic, every jurisdiction in the region experienced a drop in sales in March.

Looking at the first quarter as whole, however, you will find that sales were up in two rather expensive jurisdictions. Sales rose 3 percent in the District during the first three months of the year, and Howard County sales were up 2 percent.

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

The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes 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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