- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2010

Today’s chart compares the average prices of all the homes sold in 2009 with those sold in 2008. Looking at price data for a full year is more helpful than for a month, because monthly data is prone to jumping up and down quite a bit.

Each home type is broken down into two categories: new and resale. You will notice immediately that prices dropped for almost every home type in every jurisdiction. Some of the homes that got more expensive last year were town homes and condos in Arlington, Alexandria and the District. Prices for new condos in Montgomery County shot up 23 percent. Loudoun County was the only jurisdiction where all new-home prices rose last year.

This chart also shows something you probably know already: If you want a more affordable home, it usually means a longer commute or a smaller home.

If you can’t afford $800,625 for the average new single-family home in Fairfax County, you could buy a condo or town home instead. Or you can drive southwest to Prince William County, where new single-family homes are half the price.

PDF: Charting the market

Overall, the best home values are found in Maryland. Frederick, Charles and Prince George’s counties all were much more affordable last year than any of the nearby Virginia jurisdictions.

You also will notice that home prices generally fell more in Maryland than in Virginia in 2009. Remember that Virginia prices fell harder in 2008 than Maryland prices, so the two states are just taking turns here.

There’s one important note that should be made about this chart. Some of these jurisdictions had a fairly small number of new-home sales last year. For example, you might get excited to see you can buy a new single-family home in the District for just $425,000, compared to $1 million in Alexandria.

However, just seven new single-family homes were sold in the District last year. So that price reflects the small number of homes that happened to be built last year, not the true value of new homes in the District as a whole.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@gmail.com).

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