- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2010

If there’s any part of the Washington region that proves it’s possible for the real estate market to recover, it’s Northern Virginia. I can vouch for that personally.

Most of the region saw improvements in the housing market last year. Montgomery and Prince George’s have seen a lot of positive change. Nowhere, however, have we seen the kind of rebound that happened in Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties.

Median sales prices were up, sometimes by a significant amount. Prices go up when buyers are competing with one another for homes - which may sound like a foreign concept after the slow market we had in 2007 and 2008.

PDF: Charting the market

Things changed in 2009, when inventory fell and sales rose. That meant buyers who were motivated to buy often faced competition from other buyers. And that’s how prices go up. Eager buyers often offer more for a home than other buyers.

I know firsthand that this is true. My family is trying to buy a home, and we have missed out on several homes that received multiple offers within days of coming on the market. Our own home in Fairfax County sold in four days in January after being shown 18 times.

Quick sales like those have pulled down the statistics for time on the market. You’ll notice in today’s charts that homes sold in December in Fairfax and Prince William counties spent a much shorter time waiting for buyers than they did in recent years.

Demand for homes in Prince William County was so high and the inventory was so low that the average home was selling in little more than a month at the end of last year. That made Prince William the fastest market in the entire region.

You will notice that sales in December were down in Prince William by nearly 450 homes over sales in December 2008. That’s because of a couple of things. For one, sales there rebounded before sales in any other jurisdiction way back in the spring of 2008. As a result of all that sales activity, the inventory there has plummeted to the point where buyers who still want a home there are having trouble finding one.

The statistics on rising prices and falling time on the market prove that Prince William County is one of the leaders of the region’s real estate recovery.

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