- The Washington Times - Friday, February 29, 2008

January was a better month in which to sell a home than December. Sellers benefited from a modest increase in sales and an inventory that remained about the same. However, the price that sellers got for their homes last month was usually much lower than a year ago.

Median sales prices were down 26 percent in Prince William County, 21 percent in Stafford and 13 percent in Fairfax. Those are some of the most shocking declines, but prices were down in nearly every jurisdiction.

The District was an interesting exception. Despite being one of the region’s most expensive jurisdictions, prices there were up 11 percent last month.

It was also an easier place in which to sell than much of the region. Sales chances in the District were 13 percent last month. That made it a brisker market than Prince George’s County, for instance, where chances were 7 percent last month.

To keep things in perspective, however, remember that the District’s sales chances were 26 percent in January 2007. So, although it was a better place to sell than some in January, it wasn’t by any means easy to sell there.

  • Click here to see this week’s chart.

  • 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.

    The entire region has been a buyer’s market since September. That’s when chances were below 20 percent for every jurisdiction — although many became buyer’s markets back in 2006.

    Sales chances in January were 18 percent in Arlington County, the highest in the region for yet another month. That’s why sales prices for 2007 were up 2 percent in Arlington while prices fell nearly everywhere else.

    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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