- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

A year ago, the Northern Virginia housing market wasn’t doing so well. One reason was that the local real estate slowdown hit expensive counties harder than others, and homes just aren’t cheap in Northern Virginia.

real estate slowdown hit expensive counties harder than others, and homes just aren’t cheap in Northern Virginia.

Communities such as Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax became popular and expensive. But, when the high prices of housing in the region caused the market to suddenly slow in late 2005, expensive jurisdictions were some of the hardest hit.

In May of last year, homes were selling more slowly in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax than in most Maryland counties. Plus, Maryland buyers were actually competing a bit. In May 2006 the sales chance for homes in Alexandria was only 19 percent, compared to 27 percent in Montgomery and 42 percent in Prince George’s.

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

Now, I’m not saying that Northern Virginia has become a hot market this year. But surprisingly, it is now doing better than most of Maryland.

This May, sales chances in Arlington County were 34 percent — the only jurisdiction in the region to top 30 percent. The next best was the District, at 26 percent.

Chances in Alexandria rose to 21 percent this May, while chances in Prince George’s County fell all the way down to 14 percent. Chances also fell in the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Frederick, Charles and Anne Arundel.

Northern Virginia is somewhat of an anomaly, however. Chances in other Virginia counties have fallen in the past year. And, while the fastest-selling markets in the region are Alexandria and Arlington, the slowest-selling are Prince William, Stafford and Spotsylvania.

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

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