- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Apparently, people want to live within the Beltway. That’s not to say that jurisdictions outside the Interstate 495

circle are unpopular, but homes there just aren’t selling like they are within the circle.

Last month, the three jurisdictions with the highest levels of buyer competition were the District, Arlington County and the city of Alexandria. These are the only jurisdictions completely within the Washington Beltway.

Sales chances in Arlington were 38 percent in March, high enough to make it a seller’s market. Chances were 30 percent in Alexandria and the District.

The farther you look from the District, the lower sales chances will fall — with one exception. Chances were 29 percent in Baltimore County last month, probably because the median sales price of a home there was only $255,000.

Sales chances are calculated by dividing a month’s sales figures by the inventory on the last day of the month, resulting in a percentage. A figure below 20 percent indicates a buyer’s market. Higher figures mean we’re in a balanced market or a seller’s market.

Two things caused the higher level of buyer competition inside the Beltway last month: supply and demand.

The supply of homes, or inventory, in those three jurisdictions was lower than in March 2005. That was not the case in most of the metropolitan area last month.

Plus, the demand was strong. While sales were down 2 percent in Alexandria and the District, sales fell by double digits almost everywhere else.

But in Arlington, sales were actually up 4 percent last month. In fact, it was the best-selling March for Arlington since 2004.

This illustrates buyer motivation.

Many are driven by home prices. Looking to get the most-affordable home possible, many of them appear to be shopping in Baltimore County.

But many others just want to live close-in, which is why the most-aggressive buyer competition is happening inside the Beltway. This was true before the market cooled, and now it is true once again.

— Chris Sicks

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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