- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2008

As regular readers of this column know, it is sometimes helpful to look at a few individual jurisdictions rather than the whole region.

Broadly speaking, Virginia is bouncing back from the recent slowdown more quickly than Maryland and the District.

Different stories lie behind the data in today’s charts, as well. Buyers and sellers will be better prepared if they understand how nearby markets compare to their own.

The District, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County make up more than half of the region’s core. They all provide easy access to jobs, so they are typically popular with buyers. September sales were up in all three jurisdictions. However, the similarities end there.

Read this week’s chart here:

Median sales prices were up in the District last month, while prices were down in Prince George’s and Montgomery.

A primary reason for this difference in prices is the inventory situation. Compared to 2004, the inventory in the District is up 146 percent. In Montgomery, however, inventory is up 156 percent, and Prince George’s inventory is up 402 percent.

We can also compare the number of homes for sale to the number of housing units in each jurisdiction. Here, again, the District is the stronger market. About 1.2 percent of the homes in the District were on the market at the end of September. Compare that to 1.7 percent in Montgomery and 2.5 percent in Prince George’s.

The future of these markets depends mostly on sales and inventory. When sales pick up further, it will reduce that glut of unsold homes. That will cause buyers to compete with one another again, and that will cause prices to rebound and homes to sell more quickly.

These things will happen, but they will probably happen in the District before they do in Maryland.

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