- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

Twenty-four months ago, the Washington area’s booming real estate market began to slow down.

That’s when sellers began to flood the market with properties for sale and buyers’ interest began to taper off. Those two factors caused home prices to dip throughout the region.

Of course, both buyers and sellers are anxious to know where prices will go next. The truth is that it is just as hard to figure out where prices have been.

Today’s data give you median sales prices for January, April and July along with the percentage of increase or decrease when compared to the same month in 2006.

Not surprisingly, quite a few negative numbers appear on the page. The huge surplus of homes out there gives a buyer little incentive to bid up the price of the home he or she wants.

It was that competition among buyers that pushed prices higher and higher during the seller’s market of 2000 to 2005. Now that the competition is gone, prices have fallen or flattened.

However, if you look at the three months of data in today’s charts, you will see that many jurisdictions appear to be experiencing rising prices this year. Ignore the comparison to last year for a moment and just compare January to April to July.

In most jurisdictions, prices went up. Of course, it is important to remember that different homes were sold in each of these months. Home price data fluctuates significantly from month to month as sales in different price brackets push the data up and down.

Arlington County, for instance, saw median prices rise from $500,000 in June to $515,000 in July. Does that mean the value of every home in Arlington shot up 3 percent in one month? Probably not. That’s just the data going up and down as happens every month.

One trend in today’s data is fairly clear. Notice that prices have dropped in Prince William, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

That is not a surprise, because those three counties are the least competitive in the region. Their inventory has grown more than in other jurisdictions, while sales have shrunk dramatically.

Chris Sicks

Contact Chris Sicks by

e-mail (csicks@gmail.com).

The metropolitan area 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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