- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2009

Area home prices fell quite a lot last year. As you look around the Washington metropolitan area, however, there was a remarkable difference in how far prices fell last year.

The bar charts compare the median sales price for all the homes sold in 2008 versus the homes sold in 2007. Studying annual figures is a more accurate way of looking at home prices. Monthly data tends to vary more as different kinds of homes sell each month.

Those fluctuations in price are especially apparent in Arlington County, as shown on the fever chart. Since Arlington is a smaller jurisdiction, with only 150 to 250 sales each month, the monthly median price depends largely on which homes sold that month. Arlington has a mix of affordable condos and multimillion-dollar detached homes. Selling just a few big homes in any given month will skew the data.

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To download a PDF of the chart, click here

Price fluctuations are smaller when you look at larger counties, such as Prince William and Loudoun. Both of these counties experienced a steady downhill slide in home prices all year long.

The drop was particularly severe in Prince William County. The median sales price for 2008 was down 39 percent compared to 2007. That dramatic drop in prices had a positive effect on sales, making Prince William the most active sales market in the region. Sales were up 127 percent there last year.

Although sales fell last year in Baltimore and the District, home prices fared better in those cities than in the counties around them. Baltimore prices were flat last year and have actually risen 27 percent compared to 2005.

Prices in the District fell by only 2 percent last year and were down 5 percent compared to 2005. These figures show how remarkably resilient these two cities have been during a real estate downturn that has hit most of the region very hard.

• Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail ([email protected]).

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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