- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

March is the first month you can credibly consider part of the “spring real estate market,” but not much was blooming last month.

Sales of existing homes only increased by 650 over February. Compare that to an increase of 1,300 last year.

Also, remember that March turned out to be the best sales month for all of 2007. Let’s just hope last month was not the peak for 2008.

The spring is considered by most real estate agents to be the best time to sell because buyer activity is highest around March, April and May. If sales don’t rise soon, we can forget any possibility of 2008 being the year that real estate began to bounce back.

There was only one sign of revival last month. While sales were down in March throughout the entire Washington-Baltimore area, Prince William saw another surprising surge in home sales last month.

  • Click here to see this week’s chart.

    Sales were 65 percent higher than in March 2007. Of course, sales in Prince William were still lower than in 2005 — but that’s the case everywhere else, too.

    Why would Prince William County show signs of an early recovery from the real estate slump?

    It probably has something to do with that 30 percent drop in median sales prices posted last month. The median price of an existing home in Prince William was only $260,000 in March — a drop of $110,000 compared to March 2007.

    Home shoppers who are motivated by affordability seem to be responding to that dramatic change in pricing.

    Sure, prices have fallen in other jurisdictions. Adjacent Fairfax County saw a drop of 13 percent in the median sales price last month. However, the median was still close to $400,000, which is much more expensive than those homes in Prince William.

    Stafford County, which is farther from the District than Prince William, is now priced even higher, with a median price of $303,500 last month.

    Chris Sicks

    Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@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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